TransCanada 'Gag Order' Preventing Mattawa From Talking About Pipeline Rejected

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MATTAWA
Town of Mattawa renounced a previous 'gag order' from TransCanada that prevented them from publicly commenting the construction of a pipeline. | Creative Commons
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Under fire from environmental activists, a northern Ontario town has vowed to remove a contract clause that would have prevented it from publicly discussing pipeline builder TransCanada.

The town of Mattawa last month agreed to “not publicly comment on TransCanada’s operations or business projects” as part of a contract that saw TransCanada donate a $30,000 emergency fire services vehicle in exchange for the town extending fire services to a company facility. The donation had originally been agreed to in 2012.

Environmentalists called the contract a “gag order” that would “impede public debate” on the Energy East pipeline. Mattawa is located along the route of an existing pipeline that is to be part of the Energy East pipeline currently in development.

At a city council meeting Monday, Mayor Dean Baker announced the clause would be removed. He said TransCanada “have no problems” with removing the clause.

“They just thought it was an agreement that would protect the municipality at the end of the day,” Baker said, as quoted by Bay Today.

TransCanada had previously hinted it was looking at changing the language in its contracts to remove these types of clauses.

Activist group Avaaz presented a petition to Mattawa city council, featuring more than 30,000 signatures urging the city to eliminate the clause.

"It's great that Mattawa Council seems to have removed the gagging clause last night, but we'd like to see that totally confirmed in writing,” campaign director Jeremy Waiser said in an email to HuffPost.

“TransCanada thought it could muzzle an entire community, but over 30,000 citizens from across Canada and other groups drew attention to this and helped roll back this attempted censorship."

Bay Today reports things got somewhat heated at the council meeting Monday night, with some councilors asking out-of-town participants to bring up their concerns at their own city council meetings.

Mayor Baker said he had received threats after news of the contract became public.

“What I don’t support is when radical environmentalists call my house in all hours of the night and threaten me and my family. That’s wrong,” he said.

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