Inappropriate TransCanada Sponsorship for Ottawa Valley Canoeing Event Raises Questions

Originally posted by Environmental Defence on 3 September, 2015

TORONTO, ON – Pipeline company TransCanada is apparently seeking social license for its planned massive oil pipeline along the Ottawa River by sponsoring a major canoe competition. If built, the Energy East tar sands pipeline would create the risk of a major oil spill in the Ottawa valley, threatening the very recreational activities TransCanada is now sponsoring.

TransCanada is a gold sponsor of the 2015 ICF Canoe Freestyle World Championships taking place near Beachburg, Ontario this week. TransCanada’s sponsorship comes on the heels of similarly questionable grants in communities close to the proposed pipeline route.

“The timing of TransCanada’s sponsorship raises flags, given that the Energy East application is being reviewed by federal regulators,” Environmental Defence Climate Program Manager Adam Scott said. “TransCanada’s sponsorship looks like an attempt to curry favour with Ottawa valley residents – who would be negatively impacted by Energy East pipeline.”

There is a clear pattern of TransCanada sprinkling money on communities along the Energy East route in the months leading up to regulatory hearings:

  • Last year: money donated to Mattawa Township for a new fire truck, controversially asking them to sign a gag order in exchange.
  • May: Kemptville’s Dandelion Festival sponsorship was returned after musicians protested.
  • August: purchased sports equipment for the township of South Glengarry, near Cornwall.

“The question is, are we being bought by TransCanada? This is the second contribution that TransCanada has made in our area financially,” Pipeline Awareness Renfrew County co-founder Tricia Darley said. “Are they trying to buy our municipalities’ votes to have the Energy East pipeline run through our backyard? If so, it’s unethical.”

Pipeline Awareness Renfrew County is planning to gather on the last day of the competition on Saturday, September 5th, highlighting that the Energy East pipeline proposal puts the river in jeopardy and is incompatible with recreational activities like canoeing that depend on clean and healthy rivers.

The attempts by TransCanada come weeks after a critical Ontario Energy Board report on Energy East that highlighted risks to water and widespread local opposition in communities along the pipeline route.

About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence is Canada’s most effective environmental action organization. We challenge, and inspire change in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all.

About Pipeline Awareness Renfrew County (parcrenfrew.org): PARC is a newly-formed grassroots group of citizens in Renfrew County, Ontario concerned about the impacts of the Energy East pipeline.

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