Janet Holder is not just the senior executive with Enbridge tasked with getting the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline built, the Prince George resident is now the public face of the proposed megaproject.
With a decision from the National Energy Board regarding the fate of the northern Alberta to Kitimat pipeline a few months away, the company behind the project has launched its latest media blitz to drum up support in B.C. Print advertisements began appearing in newspapers, including the Citizen, this week touting the project's safety and Northern Gateway also launched a new website, www.gatewayfacts.ca, it hopes will convince people of the merits of the $6.5 billion project.
The website includes a section titled Meet Janet Holder, which gives both biographical information about Enbridge's senior vice-president for western access as well as quotes explaining why she thinks the dual oil and condensate pipelines and related export terminal should be build.
"It's a natural fit. She's Prince George, she's British Columbia, in the same way this pipeline is," Northern Gateway spokesman Ivan Giesbrecht said. "We really want to make sure the people of British Columbia understand they're dealing with fellow British Columbians here."
A brochure which has been produced to accompany the multimedia campaign opens with a note from Holder on the first inside page.
Holder, who moved back to her hometown of Prince George in 2011, faces a tough task with First Nations and environmental groups determined to ensure the project never gets built.
Sea to Sands Conservation Alliance spokeswoman Sonja Ostertag said Holder has been put in an impossible position trying to speak out in favour of what her group considers a dead project.
"I think [Holder's] in a really difficult position because she's trying to sell a project to her neighbours that is really unpalatable, it's not a project that's welcome in northern B.C.," Ostertag said. "I think she's trying really hard and there's a lot of pressure on her and she puts a good face on it, but I think at the end of the day it's a project that's not going to succeed."
Holder spent much of the summer on the road meeting with community groups around the province and Giesbrecht said the ad campaign is an extension of those ongoing consultations. He said the company hopes to engage with more people through its online and social media channels in the coming weeks and months.
"It's all part of the same conversation that we want to have with British Columbians to let them know that the project is first and foremost very much still alive and we're absolutely committed to meeting the province's five conditions," he said.
Outside of the regulatory review process, one of the major challenges Northern Gateway faces is getting the B.C. government on board with the project. Premier Christy Clark's government didn't pull any punches in its final argument to the National Energy Board, pointing to flaws the province saw in the pipeline application.
Last year Clark put forward five conditions which she said must be met before the province could consider approving the pipeline and on its new website Northern Gateway outlined how it plans to meet them.
The first, and most basic, condition involves gaining a positive recommendation from the National Energy Board, which Gateway claims it can meet thanks to what it calls "the best case ever for pipeline approval."
The second and third conditions deal with having world-class marine and land spill prevention and response plans. The company said its plan to have double-hulled tankers, tug boats, thicker-walled pipe and leak detection systems cover off those requirements.
The fourth, and perhaps most challenging condition, deals with ensuring First Nations rights are respected. Northern Gateway said its aboriginal equity plan and benefits it believes will flow to First Nations employees during the construction phase will fulfill that criteria.
The final condition involved ensuring B.C. gets a fair share of the pipeline economic benefits, however the province has yet to spell out the value of benefits it's seeking or in what form it hopes they will take. Northern Gateway points to an estimated $1.2 billion in provincial tax revenue over 30 years plus thousands of construction jobs and hundreds of long-term permanent jobs in the province.
Conditions aside, Ostertag said Northern Gateway has failed to secure social license to build its pipeline and she doesn't think the latest campaign will change that.
"If Enbridge and the federal government had listened from the beginning, they would have heard that First Nations and other community members from northern B.C. are 100 per cent opposed to the project and aren't going to be convinced by some fancy campaign," she said.