Over the past few days, an internal draft of a potential City Council resolution on the TransCanada pipeline proposal was shared on social media. It was also stated that the said resolution would be adopted by Council at its January 19th public meeting, which is not the case.
This unofficial document was sadly given illicitly (an act which in itself has us extremely concerned) to a person who was not authorized to receive it.
What is even sadder is that said document caused apprehension, hasty conclusions and conspiracy theories of all kind within the community. But it also brought about interesting comments that I duly noted. These are key elements to this on-going process.
At all times, you are invited to share your opinion with City Council members on any and all subjects that concern US. There is nothing more normal and healthy in a free and democratic society. They will listen to you and will use your opinions in their decision-making process.
However, councillors are not the City’s spokesperson. There are eight councillors sitting at the table, and one’s vote is not more important than the other’s. Their responsibility is exercised only when they are in Council Chambers to make decisions or to give guidelines to City Administration.
My responsibility as Mayor, is to act as City Council’s official spokesman, to ensure leadership and the governances total integrity as well as to be accountable to the public of decisions once they’re made by Council.
I will conclude with the following to make sure that all is clear and without ambiguity.
The document making the rounds on Facebook is a preliminary draft. It is NOT AN OFFICIAL DOCUMENT so long as it has not been the object of a motion by City Council during a public meeting.
Municipal employees who have been working on the pipeline file for many months were mandated by Council to make recommendations on the pipeline route actually on proposed by TransCanada. The employees made PROPOSALS in case the project goes ahead. These proposals are just that – proposals. They are not decisions. The proposals were evaluated and debated by Council who has the ultimate responsibility to make decisions. The proposals were modified and are still subject to evaluations and modifications.
For example, we still have not obtained the opinion of our Madawaska Maliseet First Nation partners who are mentioned in the document as stakeholders since they get their water from the City of Edmundston. This just goes to show you the degree of maturity of this issue and its constant evolution.
Since TransCanada presented its project and its proposed pipeline route for our area, I’ve always been clear and transparent. As official City spokesman, and on behalf of our citizens’ interest, I’ve always actively defended on the local, provincial and national stages the fact that our one and only concern is the protection of our drinkable water supply. That’s what I said yesterday; that’s what I’m saying today and that’s what I’ll be saying tomorrow. More importantly, words must become actions. City Council will take all the necessary actions through all the means at its disposal to protect our drinkable water supply.