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COMMENTARY · 19th February 2010
Merv Ritchie
Is it a payoff, an inducement, a bribe or as Enbridge calls it an honorarium? It really doesn’t matter; it is perspective and unquestionable independence that is at stake when an elected official accepts money from a corporation wishing approval on a project.

As has been reported, Mayor David Pernarowski and Councillor Brian Downie each accepted money from Enbridge to attend their meetings. They stated the amounts they are being paid will increase and justify the acceptance by suggesting this will cover their travel costs and save the City money.

In May of 2009, Terrace Mayor Pernarowski took a dignified position in regards to joining the Northern Gateway Alliance, an Enbridge assembled body of community leaders and the Community Advisory Board process. He was applauded by North West Watch for this HERE. Shortly after however he rejoined the group when they changed the wording on their website by removing the implication that all the members supported Enbridge’s project.

A very serious debate on this issue ensued at Terrace City Council on May 26th, 2009 where Terrace Councillor Bruce Martindale expressed serious reservations on Terrace belonging to the Alliance requesting that his vote, against the motion to join, be recorded.

An Oath is required to be taken when elected and one line of it is; • I will faithfully perform the duties of my office, and will not allow any private interest to influence my conduct in public matters. It may be that taking money will not affect Downie's or Pernarowski's decisions, however it may also be worth billing the City travel expenses and other costs simply to maintain the illusion of objectivity.

This evening the Regional District Kitimat Stikine will be entertaining their guests, the Pembina Institute. They have requested more information on the perspective of this environmental group which opposes the construction of the Pipeline. The meeting begins at 7pm in the third floor board room of the RDKS offices at 4545Lazelle Avenue.

The Terrace Daily will be presenting this meeting live. You can watch by clicking on the link in the top front page text banner.
One thing is clear.
Comment by Helmut Giesbrecht on 20th February 2010
Once you accept money (honorarium whatever) from a company that asks for Council support (anything), you have a duty to excuse yourself from any discussion or vote on that issue in the future.

If it was necessary for them to attend on Council's behalf then Council would have approved any expenses. If not, then it is the individuals preference but carries with it the possibility of at the very least a perception of conflict.

People in office should know better.
Comment by Moe Naguib on 20th February 2010
It was reported in The Mayor of Chilliwack pointed out that it was illegal for a municipal elected official to accept gifts or money. She turned down "FREE" tickets to the Olympics over this. She has put the appearance of integrity and compliance with the legislation first, something our mayor and councilman should learn from.

Check this link for more info