Tanker ban part of Liberal policy
If even one supertanker goes down off the BC. north coast, it could foul shorelines as far south as Campbell River says Joyce Murray.
The Vancouver Quadra MP brought that message to Parksville recently, as she talked to local federal Liberals about her private member’s bill to ban tanker traffic in the area.
Murray said her bill, C-606, is the continuation of long-term Liberal policy to protect the B.C. north coast, noting a moratorium was imposed on tanker traffic in the area by former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in 1972.
“He created a moratorium on tanker traffic around the inland waters around the then-Queen Charlotte Islands,” she said. “Tankers coming from Alaska couldn’t come down through the inland waters, even though they may have had reasons they wanted to do that. They were excluded and excluded and they had to stay a certain number of kilometres off the west coast of Vancouver Island and the Queen Charlottes.”
This moratorium, she noted, was not laid out in law, but rather, had remained as a Liberal policy — one that could be changed by a different government, should they so choose. The current Conservative government, she said, appears willing to do just that.
“When I came back from visiting the blowout in New Orleans, I started asking questions in question period about this government’s policy about the moratorium and it came clear from their answers that they would not be respecting it” she said. “That’s when Mr. Ignatieff and other Liberals started to think about what we need to do to strengthen and formalize it.”
The bill, she said, is needed in part because of the often dangerous weather conditions on the B.C. north coast.
“The spill modeling shows that if you had a major spill at the wrong time of year, with the winds as they can be in that area, it would foul right down to Campbell River and it could be the entire coast that’s affected,” she said.
“This isn’t like the the Gulf of Mexico, where it was calm for weeks after the blowout. That’s not what our north coast is like and the oil would go far and wide.”
Plans to transport oil through the area, she added, is also not really needed.
“Two thirds of the tankers that would go through inland channels by Haida Gwai would take oil to California — and there is a whole network of pipelines to serve California,” she would of the boats would be taking the oil to the east, which is supposedly the reason we would be doing that to our coast.”
The bill had been studied in a House of Commons committee and was expected to be debated and face votes — but that was prior to the May 2 federal election being called.