April 21st is the eve of Earth Day. It’s also the day on which the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce decided to host Stefan Baranski, Ontario director of TransCanada, to promote Energy East, a 130 million litre of oil per day project (most of that being dilbit). We believe that this is either insensitive or intentionally provocative. Our executive director, Graham Saul, wrote the Chamber.
The following letter has been sent to Ian Faris, president and CEO of the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce on March 15th, and has thus far remained unanswered.
President and CEO
Ottawa Chamber of Commerce
I am writing on behalf of Ecology Ottawa, a local grassroots environmental organization working to make Ottawa a leader on environmental issues. I tried calling your office but was advised to send in a letter instead.
It has been brought to my attention that the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce is planning to host a breakfast with TransCanada Corporation on the proposed Energy East pipeline the day before Earth Day, April 21. I am writing to ask you to please cancel this event and issue a statement clarifying that the Chamber is not advocating on behalf of Transcanada corporation or the proposed Energy East pipeline.
Almost 8,000 Ottawans have already signed Ecology Ottawa’s petition calling on area politicians to reject the proposed Energy East pipeline. The proposed pipeline represents an immediate threat to land and water in Ottawa and all along the pipeline route. Furthermore, it is reckless to be investing tens of billions of dollars in new oil infrastructure at a time when local, provincial, national and international governments have acknowledged the dangers of climate change and the need to transition away from our dependence on oil, coal and gas. You can find out more about why we oppose the pipeline on our website (www.ecologyottawa.ca).
We believe that, at the very least, the Chamber should not take sides on this extremely controversial project and, preferably, should oppose it. We find the kind of promotional event that the Chamber is planning very troubling, and holding the event the day before Earth Day (meaning that any newspaper coverage would run on Earth Day itself), seems either insensitive to the very real dangers associated with the proposed Energy East pipeline project or intentionally provocative. Surely you would not host a major tobacco company executive the day before World Lung Cancer Day.
It is our hope that the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce can be a leader in promoting jobs that we can all be proud of and businesses that will help address, rather than exacerbate, the greatest problems facing humanity today. As you know, Ottawa is one of the wealthiest and best educated cities in Canada. We have growing centres of innovation and higher learning, and massive untapped potential to grow our recreational tourism reputation alongside our cultural attraction as our nation’s capital. We should be leading the way on the jobs of tomorrow, not promoting the expansion of an industry that will need to be largely phased out over the next three or four decades.
With this in mind, I am writing to ask you to please cancel the April 21st event and immediately issue a statement clarifying that the Chamber is not advocating on behalf of the proposed Energy East pipeline.
I would be happy to discuss this with you further and I very much appreciate your consideration.