Small but Mighty – and Determined to Make a Point

Submitted by Judy Sauve, PARC Member

When PARC members learned that TransCanada was a “gold sponsor” of the 2015 World Freestyle Kayak Championship held in Beachburg, we decided it was important to go there to inform the public. Time was short for organizing but a group came together, gathered up previously used pickets, made some new ones and set up a carpool heading to Beachburg. We discussed en route how difficult it was to do this at an international event because we, like everyone else, instinctively want Canada to make a good impression. But we agreed that our reason for being there outweighed our discomfort.

The event was being held on the Ottawa River, specifically in the whitewater wonders which the media had described as the best natural location in the world for this sport. It is a priceless asset to the region, not only for recreation but it also creates employment. TransCanada’s sponsorship was considered by PARC to be grossly inappropriate because that company proposes to ship oil through the Energy East pipeline which would cross at least 24 waterways draining into the Ottawa River. A spill could potentially destroy this celebrated asset.

Members protested with pickets at the entrance to the event on closing day, September 5. It was encouraging to see many thumbs up as cars entered the grounds, although many others drove by intentionally ignoring the pickets. We didn’t interfere with the flow of traffic getting into the grounds but if windows were down, people were offered pamphlets.

We were told initially that we could stay, provided we remained on the strip between the ditch and the road. We set up and began displaying our pickets. After a while, the chief organizer of the kayak championship came by to talk to us. He clearly wanted us to leave, pointing out that this was just a competition involving amateur athletes. Tricia Darley, our spokesperson and co-founder of PARC, spoke with him and explained that our objection was not with the event but with the TransCanada sponsorship. He said they had donated $5,000 and if they had offered $10,000 he would have accepted it. He also suggested we could donate to the cause! He then gave up and drove away, not happy that we were staying but not interfering with our actions.

We stayed for a couple of hours, feeling by that time that most people had entered the grounds and that we had sent our message. During that time, Tricia completed two media interviews, one with myFM radio and another with COGECO cable. myFM immediately posted a picture and brief story on several websites and as yet, we don’t know when/if the video and interview will be carried on COGECO.

Conclusion? A successful day in getting the word out!

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.