Port’s secret donation to coal conference raises questions of bias
Read this Oct. 31 story from 24 hrs revealing that Port Metro Vancouver donated $5,000 to a coal conference – then asked for its logo to be removed – while it reviews a proposal to expand the Surrey Fraser coal terminal.
Newly released documents suggest Port Metro Vancouver, the federal regulator reviewing a plan to expand the region’s coal exports, donated to a coal industry lobby conference in September but attempted to hide its sponsorship.
The 44 pages of documents, obtained through an Access to Information and Privacy request from the activist group Voters Taking Action on Climate Change, reveal the federally appointed body is a member of lobby group Coal Association of Canada and paid $5,000 to the annual conference.
“(Port CEO Robin Silvester) brought up the issue of the Coal Conference,” said an Aug. 27 email from PMV senior account representative Doug Mills to Katherine Bamford, the agency’s trade development director. “He fully backs our support of this important industry sector, but that, as result of recent press and public backlash, we need to be less out-there at this time.”
Bamford replied: “Please ensure that all digital and electronic promotion items exclude PMV brand marks.”
In a phone interview, Bamford told 24 hours the sponsorship is essential to the port’s mandate to “facilitate trade,” and defended the removal of logos from conference materials.
“They removed our logo before it went to print,” she said. “We were actually taking the public’s concerns into consideration in our sponsorships here.”
Kathryn Harrison, Voters Taking Action on Climate Change spokeswoman, said the documents suggest the port can’t act impartially.
“They provide further evidence that the port sees its role as an ally or advocate of the coal industry, rather than as an independent or impartial regulator.”