Saturday, July 5, 2014

Believe It Or Not

Readers of a certain age will remember an erstwhile popular feature carried in many newspapers, Ripley's Believe It Or Not. Each day we would be invited to view a vignette depicting something bizarre or outrageous that frequently strained credulity:

Were it still publishing such tales, I would offer the following for Ripley's consideration:

A $30,000 donation by TransCanada Corp. to the Northern Ontario town of Mattawa comes with a condition attached — an apparent vow of silence on TransCanada’s business activities.

One of the clauses in the agreement says this:

“The Town of Mattawa will not publicly comment on TransCanada’s operations or business projects.”

Commenting on TransCanada’s business is a sensitive point, as the company has several controversial pipeline projects on the go, in addition to Energy East.

According to Mattawa mayor, James Backer, TransCanada offered the town $30,000 toward a new rescue truck, if it agreed to provide services. (The pipeline runs just outside the town's boundaries.) It was all quite innocent.

But wait; there's more!

The ever-beneficent pipeline giant says that it is all just one big misunderstanding, and that the clause was inserted to protect municipalities from stress:

TransCanada spokesman Davis Sheremata said the no-comment clause was inserted to protect town councils from feeling pressured to support TransCanada projects elsewhere.

“In recent years, we have found that communities we enter into partnerships with have at times been targeted by opponents of our projects in Canada and the United States, and have felt pressured to make public statements on our behalf in support of projects not related to them and sometimes located thousands of miles away,” he said.

“The language in the agreement was designed to prevent municipalities from feeling obligated to make public comments on our behalf about projects that did not impact them and about which they had no experience or knowledge.”

“If the Town of Mattawa or any other municipality expressed a concern that the contract would in any way have limited their ability to take part in a full and open discussion about the Canadian Mainline or Energy East, we would have removed it,” he wrote.

As Ripley's used to say, "Believe it or not, folks."


  1. Lorne, incredible indeed. Instructions to Transcanada might have come from higher up - from the resident of the 24 Sussex Drive.

    1. Or, depending on your perspective, LD, it might have come as a suggestion from lower down, from the resident of 24 Sussex Drive.