Kandace Kerr was denied access to the Enbridge Annual General Meeting in Calgary on May 8 after traveling from Fort St. James for the event.
The local intervenor, who has worked extensively to represent local landowners and the Fort St. James Sustainability Group, was kept from going into the meeting, even though she reportedly had valid proxy status assigned to her by a shareholder.
Kerr and Luanne Roth, a fisher person from Prince Rupert, were the only two proxy-holders in a group organized by the West Coast Environmental Law who were denied access to the AGM, though initially, the entire group was told they would not be getting into the meeting.
Brenda Belak, the lawyer from West Coast Environmental Law who helped arrange the proxies was there at the door.
“We got to the door and the first thing we heard was ‘None of you are getting in, none of you have valid proxies, you’re not on our list.’ and I said well that’s ridiculous, I know very well that I’ve got confirmation from all these people that they just assigned their proxy to (these people),” said Belak.
Belak said West Coast Environmental Law had arranged the proxies for people from communities from across the path of the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline to bring the voices and concerns to the AGM of those who would be directly effected should the pipeline be built, and Kerr was one of those.
“Kandace is somebody who lives close to the proposed pipeline route and close to the location of a proposed pumping station and as a landowner and a farmer has really serious concerns (about) how much she can trust Enbridge,” she said.
Both Kerr and Belak said there was a lot of back and forth with Enbridge representatives at the door of the AGM and eventually, a new list was produced which allowed some of their group to enter the meeting, however Kerr and Roth were continued to be denied access.
Belak even opffered to contact the shareholder who Kerr was to represent on the phone to confirm the proxy and asked to contact the third party company who oversees the proxy assignment, but was still refused and was told it was part of this year’s enhanced security measures.
Belak said they were told over and over the proper procedures had not been followed so there was nothing Enbridge could do about it.
But Belak said the proper procedures had been followed and shareholder Josh Paterson did confirm with The Caledonia Courier he had registered Luanne Roth and Kandace Kerr as his proxies on May 1, well in advance of the AGM and the proxy deadline.
Belak said she felt it was suspicious to her they chose to single out the proxies representing Paterson, because he had previously been a lawyer with West Coast Environmental Law and had attended a number of Enbridge AGMs in the past.
“They knew him, and (he and a) a woman who had taken part in the joint review panel process were the ones whose proxy couldn’t be found,”’ said Belak.
She said the Enbridge representatives would not show her their list, but simply kept repeating to her Kerr and Roth were not on it.
“It was just odd under the circumstances,” said Belak.
“It felt very personal in my case, like they knew exactly who I was and what I was doing here in the Fort, and it felt like they had planned this response specifically because of my actions and opinions about Gateway,” said Kerr in her account of the incident. “So I responded the best way I know how – I turned around and starting talking to the media.”
The two women later heard anecdotal accounts of an unregistered friend of a share holder who was allowed into the meeting without any credentials other than the shareholder’s presence, but this report was unconfirmed.
Graham White, spokesperson for Enbridge, said he was at the door for most of the AGM, but did not recall any encounter with Kerr and said he did not know who she was.
“I saw a number of people try to get in and the only reason that we turned people away was because they didn’t have a valid proxy-holder status,” said White.
He said many opposition groups were at the meeting and had the opportunity to ask questions, and there were over 90 minutes of questions from them and no one was cut off.
“We had no agenda (or) any requirements other than that they were a shareholder or they had a valid proxy status,” said White. In regards to Kerr’s situation, he said he did not know why that would have been the case.
Belak said she and others who were allowed into the meeting tried to represent Kerr and Roth and ask the questions Kerr had hoped to bring forward regarding landowner consultation and pump station safety.