VANCOUVER - Elections BC says energy giant Kinder Morgan does not need to register as a third-party advertiser in the province's civic election campaign.
A Vancouver-area member of Parliament asked Elections BC look into the issue, saying Kinder Morgan is running advertisements about the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion during the municipal election period.
Burnaby-Douglas New Democrat MP Kennedy Stewart said the pipeline proposal is a key campaign issue for several municipalities and he described Kinder Morgan's ads as an attempt to sway voters.
However Jodi Cook, Elections BC manager of provincial electoral finance, said in a letter that Kinder Morgan's advertising doesn't meet the definition of election advertising.
"Therefore, there is no requirement for Kinder Morgan to register as an advertising sponsor at this time," the letter states.
Elections BC rules say anyone who runs ads on an election issue must register as a third-party advertiser and disclose costs within 90 days of the Nov. 15 election.
After the decision was made by Elections BC earlier this month, Stewart submitted additional evidence regarding Kinder Morgan's advertising in Burnaby, alleging the company was focusing advertising efforts on a campaign directed against Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan, who vehemently opposes the pipeline and who is running again for mayor.
Stewart alleged in a letter to Nola Western, the deputy chief electoral officer, that Kinder Morgan held a telephone town hall meeting in Burnaby in which 5,000 residents participated.
In a recording of the meeting posted on the project website, Stewart said Kinder Morgan president Ian Anderson describes a plan to offset Mayor Corrigan's "very public media driven campaign against the pipeline."
"Corrigan is disparaged by Anderson, who states opponents are using 'fear and emotion' to sway residents, and that information about the projects is being mischaracterized by the mayor," he said in the letter.
Elections BC replied that the recording of the town hall meeting had been removed from the website.
Kinder Morgan and the City of Burnaby have been in a pitched battle over the project, filing duelling legal actions and applications with the National Energy Board.
The city ultimately blocked the company from conducting pipeline survey work on Burnaby Mountain, home to a municipal conservation area and Simon Fraser University, and Kinder Morgan's preferred route for the new pipeline.
On Thursday, the federal energy regulator ruled in the company's favour and issued an order granting Trans Mountain access.
The city cannot block the company from carrying out required surveys and technical studies, the board panel found.
The work is required for the board to make a recommendation to the federal government about whether the project should proceed, it said.
"Preventing full access to Burnaby Mountain would be contrary to the purpose of the NEB Act," the board said in a statement.
The company must give the city written notice of work 48 hours in advance and must remediate any damage, the order specified.
It is the first time the National Energy Board has ever issued an order to a municipality.
Burnaby had argued the board couldn't override municipal bylaws but the board found it does have the legal jurisdiction.
The pipeline expansion would almost triple the capacity of Kinder Morgan's existing line between Alberta and the B.C. coast to about 900,000 barrels of crude a day.
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