Citizens witnessed an unexpected double victory for transparency at the Fredericton Council-in-Committee meeting.
Fredericton City Council publicly took back the letter of support for the proposed TransCanada Energy East Pipeline Project that they approved in a secret meeting and sent to the Prime Minister of Canada.
Just as important was the revelation that the Canadian Chamber of Commerce has cancelled this national campaign and will not be sending these letters from Fredericton and other municipalities to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce will no longer ask municipalities across Canada to approve and send in letter of support for Energy East.
“No, it was never delivered. We just found that out tonight,” said Councillor and Mayoral candidate Mike O’Brien on CBC Information Morning Fredericton. “I guess it did go to the local Chamber of Commerce and it was forwarded to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. But as we heard tonight, they decided on their own not to forward it on to the Prime Minister’s Office which it was addressed to. So we are rescinding something that never really got sent, but it shouldn’t have been approved in the first place.”
Councillor Mike O’Brien concluded, “But I think it was mentioned tonight that perhaps the Canadian Chamber of Commerce felt that there wasn’t enough unanimous feeling across from different Councils across the country to send on. So there wasn’t enough support for it in general to send on. So I think they made their own decision that, OK, this is, as I mentioned the word tonight, the support for that particular letter is vaporized.”
This is a major victory for citizen engagement from the Council of Canadians.
After launching a “Publicly Take Back The Letter” poster and social media campaign, the Fredericton chapter of the Council of Canadians joined other citizens in the public gallery at the April 26, 2016 City Council meeting and silently expressed their disappointment that Mayor Brad Woodside and 12 Councillors completely ignored this issue.
The next day, news broke that the City of Edmundston passed a resolution to protect their watershed from the proposed Energy East pipeline. The public engagement and proactive resolution by the City of Edmundston could not have been a more stark contrast to the lack of transparency and accountability displayed by the City of Fredericton.
Intense and sustained public and media pressure forced Mayor Brad Woodside and Councillors to put the letter issue on this week’s meeting. This time, citizens in the public gallery were all thumbs up when Fredericton City Council voted unanimously to take back the letter. It was a big win for transparency and accountability from our elected representatives.
The municipal election for Fredericton takes place on Monday, May 9, 2016.