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NPA's Kirk LaPointe comments on his relationship with Kinder Morgan

Photo by Jenny Uechi

NPA mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe met with Kinder Morgan Canada president Ian Anderson discuss the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, he told the Vancouver Observer today. 

"I had one meeting with Ian Anderson back in late July. The nature of the discussion was the (Trans Mountain pipeline expansion) project," he said in response to a question from the Vancouver Observer at a news conference this morning to reveal the NPA platform. "I wanted to let him know I would be seeking stringent environmental measures and that I'd be advocating on behalf of the City of Vancouver." 

He said aside from that discussion with the president, he had not been meeting with anyone from the company in a "long time".

As for whether anyone from Kinder Morgan or Trans Mountain contributed funds or strategic advice to the NPA campaign, LaPointe responded: "Not that I know of, no." 

Kinder Morgan's $5.4 billion proposal to triple the capacity for the existing Trans Mountain pipeline to 890,000 barrels of diluted bitumen per day is touted by proponents as a source of jobs and revenues. Trans Mountain projects the project will bring $355 million in increased provincial tax revenue to B.C. over six years of construction and 30 years of operations. It would also create 50 long-term jobs, according to the company. However, city councils of both Vancouver and Burnaby have opposed the project, on the grounds of Kinder Morgan's spill record and six-fold increase in oil tanker traffic through Burrard Inlet that would result from the expansion. 

The project, which is currently under review by the National Energy Board, has been a target of intense citizen opposition in recent weeks, with the company filing a multi-million dollar lawsuit against citizens -- including two university professors -- who have criticized the project.

Mayor Gregor Robertson, meanwhile, said he met once with Anderson last February to "express [his] profound opposition to the Kinder Morgan proposal and the impacts of oil tanker expansion in Vancouver's waters." He confirmed Kinder Morgan has not made any contribution to his party.

COPE's executive director Sarah Beuhler told the Vancouver Observer that COPE Mayoral candidate Meena Wong has not met with anyone from Kinder Morgan to discuss the pipeline.

"Absolutely not. Our position is that we want to have a referendum on this project," she said, adding that COPE was in general opposed to further bitumen export expansion from Alberta's oil sands through B.C.. She said the party has received no contributions to date from the pipeline company.

During the press conference, LaPointe criticized the Vision Vancouver for "not lik[ing]" the energy industry", saying he would be more "pragmatic" in dealing with matters such as charitable donations from oil companies to schools. Vision's school board chair refused funding from oil companies toward Vancouver's public schools. Although oil companies have sponsored education materials for schools in the past, the donations to Vancouver were said to have "no strings attached".

"It's unrealistic to suggest we're only going to get money for our schools from the province. Of course we'll fight for it...But while we fight for it, children aren't getting the equipment they need," LaPointe said, adding that if elected, he would keep an "open mind" to other sources of revenue outside of government to ensure that students aren't underfunded. 

Robertson said it was important that there was no "corporate influence within [Vancouver's] schools, or any perception of that". 

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