TransCanada removes Energy East video after controversial appearance of North Bay fire chief
Online ad showed Grant Love touting safety record of oil and gas company
TransCanada has removed a promotional video showing the former fire chief in North Bay, Ont. touting the safety of the oil company.
Grant Love, who was still in charge of North Bay's fire services when the footage was shot earlier this year, appears in a promotional video posted in October titled "Energy East Pipeline- Committed to Safety."
The video was taken down this afternoon, following a complaint from the city's mayor Al McDonald.
TransCanada plans to convert a portion of pipeline in North Bay from a gas to oil line as part of its Energy East project, a proposed pipeline that would move oil from western Canada eastward.
That pipeline runs through North Bay's watershed and directly underneath Trout Lake, which is the city's drinking water source. The city has taken a stance against the proposal.
In the video, chief Love is seen talking about TransCanada's safety record, with upbeat music playing in the background.
"One of the things that sets TransCanada apart ... is they have open dialogue with us. From my perspective, they haven't hidden anything from us," he says in the video.
"My experience with TransCanada, from my perspective, has gone from good to excellent," he says, pointing out that the fire service has used some of TransCanada facilities for water supply in the past.
"What I've noticed is their commitment to community, as far as safety goes."
Love could not be reached for comment.
Fire chief 'hawking' for Energy East, critic says
Nicole Peltier, who heads up the Green Party in Nipissing-Temiskaming, said she was shocked when she saw the city's fire chief vouching for the safety record of TransCanada.
"It's one thing to have our fire chief work with businesses that have risky activities," she said.
"But it's completely a whole different ball game when you have a senior official for the city in an advertisement promoting the Energy East pipeline."
"You can see public resources like our fire trucks [and] firemen in the video. It's a misuse of public resources," she continued.
"We have our fire chief ... hawking for TransCanada's Energy East pipeline."
TransCanada says ad is about safety
In an email, TransCanada spokesperson Tim Duboyce told CBC News that Love was not paid or compensated for his appearance in the film.
"It was certainly never our intention to surprise or offend anyone with this video," Duboyce wrote.
"The video was simply posted to share the perspective of an emergency responder who has had a long-term relationship with our company regarding our commitment to safety," he continued.
"We always strive toward positive relationships with municipalities, including the mayor and council in North Bay."
North Bay mayor unaware of ad
McDonald said he wasn't aware the film was being made.
While Love never explicitly states support for the pipeline, McDonald told CBC News he asked to have the video taken down because he was concerned it could imply North Bay's support for the project.
"That just goes to show you how sophisticated TransCanada is when it comes to these types of videos," McDonald said.
Other chiefs, other videos
Love isn't the first fire chief to appear in a promotional video touting the safety of TransCanada.
Englehart's Fire Chief Tom Henderson, Cochrane's Fire Chief Richard Vallée, and Kapuskasing's Fire Chief Gerry Demeules all appear in promotional videos for TransCanada posted to YouTube in October 2015.