When floods forced members of the Siksika Nation to flee their Southern Albertan homes in June 2013, TransCanada asked how it could help and stepped in to provide over 30 volunteers, resources and $50,000 worth of essentials such as sheets, blankets and towels to help displaced residents who had lost everything get started in a new home.
We came back in the community a few months later during the holidays to hold a toy drive and provide backpacks to the youngest of Siksika Nation’s flood-affected victims.
This is one of many examples where our employees step in to provide help, to reach out to their friends and neighbours and to build stronger communities.
TransCanada has a long history of corporate philanthropy that we are extremely proud of. In 2013, TransCanada invested more than $12 million in funding and donations to about 1,600 non-profit organizations to support safety, community and environment initiatives. Donations, corporate sponsorships and employee volunteering are an important part of our operations throughout North America and it is how we have built a strong reputation as a good responsible partner.
“This is one of the best parts about working for TransCanada. We get to help entire communities, communities we know because we work there and our employees live there. We do it because we believe in being a good neighbour and supporting our long-term relationships with these communities,” says Sheila Flemmer, Senior Community Partnership Advisor, Canada, at TransCanada.
A Positive Impact
This is why we are frustrated when we see some of our community investments get picked on by professional activists. Instead of seeing a donation of $30,000 to the Town of Mattawa, Ontario, for what it is: a contribution to help equip a municipality near TransCanada’s operations (for nearly six decades) with a much-needed fire truck to respond rescue calls; they claim that a confidentiality clause included in the contract formalizing the two-year-old donation is trying to “silence” any potential opposition to the proposed Energy East Pipeline Project that will run nearby.
Although questions about the phrasing of this clause are legitimate – the language used was general in nature, and vague – both TransCanada and the Mayor of Mattawa have been clear that nothing in this agreement prevents them from providing public comments on our operations or potential projects. We will amend our contract language to ensure communities know they retain the full right to participate in an open and free dialog about our projects.
We cannot help but feel though that these attacks go well beyond the language and are aimed at our community investment initiatives at large, which professional opponents deride as “opportunistic” moves.
TransCanada is proud to have made a number of investments in Mattawa over the years including donations to the local food bank and the Mattawa Reads literacy initiative. These investments in the town of 2,000 people, as well as the fire truck donation, were made based on needs identified by local employees and the community.
Doing something that positively impacts the lives of members of communities we operate in has been part of our core beliefs for more than 60 years. We want to be more than a pipeline builder. We strive to be a good neighbour by getting to know local residents, fostering positive relationships and investing in local communities across Canada. These are long-term commitments, because we think that as a business we can only grow if the economy and society we operate in are strong.
Every year, we support important causes that promote the fundamental principles of safety, community and environment. For example, our partnership with the International Association of Fire Chiefs ensures first responders have world-class training and the equipment and tools they need to do their jobs safely. Last year, TransCanada offered $50,000 to the Rapid City Volunteer Fire Department, Manitoba, to provide short-term equipment needs for first responders after the fire hall was totally destroyed by fire. This is what we do. We step in and give back to the community, and it is certainly something we are not ashamed of.
We want to ensure the communities we live and work in are stronger and better off as a result of us being there. This is why our teams on the ground continuously work to identify community challenges and find innovative and useful ways to drive shared value. We fund projects with organizations such as Ducks Unlimited, Nature Canada, Helmets to Hardhats, Pollution Probe and the Trans Canada Trail.
We are immensely proud to be part of these community-building efforts and to see that our contributions make a difference in people’s lives. This is about being a good corporate citizen, and we genuinely believe this is the right thing to do. We will not let professional activists badmouth this good work. This is insulting to us and to the communities we partner with. True to the same tactics used against the Keystone XL Pipeline and other projects, these groups use whatever they can to try and suggest motives that aren’t there.
What people do not often see or realize is the kind of pressure that some communities and non-profit groups come under by professional opponents to make statements that support their particular point of view. What people do get to see is the “naming and shaming” of these communities and charitable organizations when they dare partner up with our company. We wish these activists were held to the same standards of disclosure and providing factual information to the public that we are. And we hope they will come to accept and respect the decision of those residents who speak out in favour of the Energy East project because they trust us to do it well.