Summer jobs controversy reheats over posting calling to ‘stop the Kinder Morgan pipeline’

Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Expansion Project's oil storage tank farm is seen in Burnaby, B.C., on Friday, Nov. 25, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

A B.C.-based non-profit group has received funding for a job to advocate against the Trans Mountain pipeline.

The Dogwood Initiative has a job posting for an organizing assistant who will “work directly with a Dogwood Provincial Organizer and the field organizing team to help our organizing network stop the Kinder Morgan pipeline and tanker project.”

The position is funded by the Canada Summer Jobs program.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer used the revelation to lead off Wednesday’s question period with a barrage of questions about the pipeline.

“The prime minister has signed off on a grant that will go specifically to hire an assistant who will ‘work directly with the provincial organizer and the field organizing team to help our network stop the Kinder Morgan pipeline,”‘ Scheer told the Commons, quoting from Dogwood’s online call for job applications.

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WATCH: Debate over the Canada Summer Jobs program

“Does he not realize that he is funding the very groups that are protesting against the project that is in the national interest?”

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, however, says the group also received funding from the previous Conservative government under then-prime minister Stephen Harper.

Shannon Stubbs, Conservative Shadow Minister for Natural Resources, said in a statement that Trudeau’s “government is funding a position that is explicitly dedicated to ‘stop the Kinder Morgan pipeline’. People who want to shut down this pipeline don’t care about the jobs that will be lost, or the families broken by their actions.”

“Justin Trudeau should champion Canada’s energy sector and the men and women who work in it. But from day one, he has failed their families and continues to threaten their livelihoods. The Trans Mountain Expansion is at serious risk, but he still has no plan.”

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She went on to say under the Liberals, “Canada’s energy sector has lost more than $80 billion in investment, and more than 110,000 workers have lost their jobs. Justin Trudeau vetoed the approved Northern Gateway pipeline, killed Energy East with last-minute red tape, and left Trans Mountain hanging in the balance.  He caused this crisis.”

Kai Nagata of the Dogwood Initiative said it has received funding for summer jobs focusing on public outreach for years.

He said this year’s job posting was similar to ones in the past, adding that they “literally copy and paste the application” for funding “year in and year out.”

“We received funding continuously for six straight years under the previous government and we were never under that impression that it was a political matter,” Nagata said.

He added that the organization received funding from the Harper government to advocate against the Enbridge Northern Gateway project.

“The federal government under Harper was quite vociferous about Enbridge Northern Gateway and that never affected the approval of the Canada Summer Jobs grant,” Nagata said.

The government has been under fire of late over the program, specifically a new requirement that organizations must declare their support for the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including women’s reproductive rights.

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“Students canvassing on issues that are of interest to British Columbians is something that governments of all stripes have supported on many different issues,” Nagata said.

“I think it’s unfortunate that the program is being politicized.”

— With files from The Canadian Press

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