The six candidates running for the Courtenay-Alberni seat in the 2019 federal election. Photos supplied

2019 FEDERAL ELECTION: Courtenay-Alberni candidates discuss ocean pollution, traffic

In an effort to inform the Courtenay-Alberni riding constituents, we have supplied all candidates with a series of questions. Each week, we will publish their answers to questions pertinent to this riding.

In this article, the five Courtenay-Alberni candidates answer the following question: “How do you envision your party’s role in dealing with ocean pollution and increased marine traffic along B.C.’s coast?” (300 word maximum). Order of placement was done at random. Order will be rotated in each subsequent article.

BYRON HORNER

Conservative Party of Canada

Byron Horner is the Conservative Party of Canada candidate for the Courtenay-Alberni riding.

Reduce Ocean Plastics Pollution

As executive producer of the Great Bear Rainforest IMAX film I was disgusted by the ocean pollution we saw while filming in B.C.’s most pristine inlets. Research shows that 99.5% of ocean plastics comes from outside of North America with 95% of ocean plastics originating from 10 rivers in Asia and Africa. As part of www.arealplan.ca, a Conservative government will:

• Work with developing countries to reduce plastic waste.

• Ban the export of plastics waste unless proof of recycling at destination.

• Regulate plastics recycling within Canada, including extending producer responsibility. (Currently only 12% of blue bin plastics are recycled – the rest end up in landfills. This is unacceptable.)

• Work with provinces, territories and producers to minimize plastic packaging.

End Raw Sewage Ocean Pollution

In 2017, Canadian municipalities dumped 215 billion litres of raw untreated sewage. A Conservative government will prioritize the ending of raw sewage dumps into our ocean ecosystems.

Regulate Marine Shipping to Protect our Coastal Communities and Marine Life

A Conservative government will work with provinces, industry and scientific experts to regulate shipping routes to reduce the impacts of shipping on marine life. A transhipment hub in Port Alberni would also reduce marine traffic in the Salish Sea.

Prioritize Funding for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement

Individuals and corporations who pollute our oceans must be held accountable and face real consequences. A Conservative government will increase funding for Environment Canada enforcement officers.

Real Results as an MP in Government

As your MP in a Conservative government, I will have the ability to help create and pass legislation to reduce Canadian plastics that end up in landfills and oceans. The recent NDP private member’s motion on oceans plastic did not change any law or provide any funding and had zero impact – We can do better!

***

SEAN WOOD

Green Party of Canada

Sean Wood is the Green Party of Canada candidate for the Courtenay-Alberni riding. Photo supplied.

Governments take action when Green representatives are elected. The Green Party will work across party lines to ensure that our government protects and restores marine ecosystems.

Tonnes of plastic enter the ocean every year and end up floating, submerged, or sinking, often leaching and absorbing toxic chemicals and harming and killing marine life through entanglement or ingestion. Here in Courtenay-Alberni, I’ve seen first-hand the impact of plastic pollution on our beaches. Islands like Hornby and Denman struggle to clean up piles of plastic waste from both single-use plastics and fishing gear.

In addition to banning non-essential single-use plastics, Greens will act to protect our coasts from other plastic pollution. To reduce and mitigate plastic waste that entangles and kills marine animals, by January 2021 Greens will implement an Extended Producer Responsibility program for all companies making or selling synthetic fishing gear to fund the retrieval of lost or abandoned fishing gear and the collection and recycling of old, damaged, and recovered fishing gear.

Increased tanker traffic disrupts and endangers marine life on our coast, and the communities of Courtenay-Alberni are vulnerable to spills from fossil fuel-laden tankers. Greens will pass legislation to keep Canada’s west coast crude oil supertanker-free, ensuring both that a new West Coast oil bitumen-diluent port will not be built and that the current bitumen-diluent tanker traffic in the Port of Vancouver be rapidly phased out.

Our oceans and the species and communities that rely on them need champions in Ottawa. I will fight on behalf of the people of Courtenay-Alberni to protect and restore marine species like wild salmon, herring, and orcas that are impacted by pollution and tanker traffic, protect our oceans from acidification driven by fossil fuel use and the risks of tanker spills, and fund measures to help our communities adapt and thrive.

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TROY WHITLEY

People’s Party of Canada

Troy Whitley is the People’s Party of Canada candidate for the Courtenay-Alberni riding. Photo supplied.

The PPC recognizes that its members are subject matter experts on the issues impacting their own respective regions. Rather than receiving orders from a distant bureaucrat, the PPC would instead respect the advice of the local representative.

That being said, I recognize the impact that unchecked or poorly regulated seafaring activity has in environmentally sensitive areas. In many cases, this type of activity is done by those who have little interest in our coastal water health as they originate from or are destined for another country. Their fuel, garbage, and wastewater handling procedures may be far different than ours and have no respect for our waters. Furthermore, unchecked fishing on our waters or further mistreatment of our marine life is unacceptable. The Exxon Valdez disaster may have been decades ago but it exposed how many safety regulations were ignored in the pursuit of profit.

The environment is everyone’s responsibility and it is foolish to assume that, without regulations moving in and through our waters, we can continue as things are. For too long the major parties have turned a blind eye to unsafe marine activity, believing it is the “cost of doing business”. The PPC may have no official policy for dealing with marine activity on our coastal waters, but I understand the sensitive nature of our coast and will work with experts to protect them.

There is a solution that will allow us to protect our coastal waters while still allowing us to do business in them and through them. It will take hard work and dedication to find this solution, and I am the right person to deliver it

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GORD JOHNS

New Democratic Party

NDP candidate Gord Johns is seeking re-election in the Courtenay-Alberni riding. Photo supplied.

Courtenay-Alberni is a riding of coastal communities. A healthy marine environment is essential for our economy, culture and food security. Decades of neglect and mismanagement by Conservative and Liberal governments have led to a marine pollution crisis complicated by the global climate emergency.

My parliamentary motion on ocean plastics was unanimously approved in 2018 and led to a G7 agreement and a federal ban on single-use plastics. It calls for concrete actions to clean up derelict fishing gear, the extension of plastics producer responsibility, funding for education and beach cleanups and, importantly, a fundamental redesign of our plastic economy.

As your Member of Parliament, working together with all levels of government, we achieved record levels of waste management infrastructure investment for Courtenay-Alberni. Our marine environment is the big winner.

In 2017, I was pleased to work with First Nation and regional governments to save 60 jobs in our shellfish industry through the removal of derelict vessels. The work of New Democrats led to federal legislation on this pervasive threat to our coasts.

Increased marine traffic has coincided with the closure of the Marine Communications and Transfer Stations at Ucluelet and Comox causing both significant job loss and compromised safety for mariners on our waters. These cuts were planned by the Conservatives and implemented by the Liberals. I will push for the re-establishment of this critical infrastructure.

I am proud to have helped establish the Indigenous coast guard auxilary in support of the traditional role by First Nations saving lives on our waters. I will continue to fight for the expansion of this program.

I oppose Conservative and Liberal plans for a seven-fold increase of supertanker traffic carrying raw bitumen in our coastal waters. I favour the electrification of marine transport.

Our marine environment is endangered and we must act.

***

JONAH GOWANS

Liberal Party of Canada

Jonah Gowans is running for the Liberal Party in the Courtenay-Alberni riding. Photo supplied.

I am proud of the Liberal Government’s record the national $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan (OPP) is the largest investment ever made to protect Canada’s coasts and waterways. I’m also excited to work towards further protecting our oceans as on September 26th Justin Trudeau announced a Liberal Government is committed to giving 25% of our oceans protected status along with 25% of the land. When talking specifically of Oceans I think the record deserves a closer look. In 2015 1% of our Oceans were protected, today that number is 14% and under a Liberal government by 2025, it will be 25%!

Canada championed international efforts to reduce plastic pollution by spearheading the development of the Ocean Plastics Charter at the G7 leaders’ summit. And, in November 2018, federal, provincial and territorial environment ministers agreed to a Canada-wide Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste to guide actions in order to keep plastics in our economy and out of landfills and the environment.

The key point around marine traffic is mitigating risks. Everyone on the coast fears an oil spill in the Salish Sea. Governing should not be based on only our fears, the Liberal government led by the Liberal MPs from BC have taken steps like slowing down all vessels in the region to protect our Orca population and invested heavily in Canada’s capacity to deal with an oil spill if the worst should ever occur. The Liberal MPs are great people, but all come from Metro Vancouver and our ocean here in Courtenay-Alberni is on two sides. We have part of the Salish Sea, but we also have the Pacific Ocean on our West Coast. If elected I’ll make sure our voices are always heard as well.

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BARBARA BILEY

Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada

Barbara Biley is the Courtenay-Alberni candidate for the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada. Photo supplied

As we have seen from the actions of the youth all over the world the question of climate justice and protecting the natural environment in order that the youth have a future is taking centre stage. The need for action to protect the oceans from pollution and from the danger of catastrophic damage from activities like off-shore oil drilling and oil spills which have happened in many countries, including on the B.C. coast, is immediate, as all can see.

The actions of government at both the federal and provincial level only reveal hypocrisy (Norwegian fish farms, LNG Canada and fracking, the federal purchase of the Trans Mountain Pipeline as examples). Instead of establishing nation-to-nations relations with the Indigenous peoples who are the keepers of the land, land defenders are criminalized and marginalized through phony consultations after which they are forced to seek redress in the courts. On top of that we have the crisis of the party-dominated political system which brings one or another or a combination of parties to power, parties which form a kind of cartel tasked with satisfying the demands of foreign “investors.”

First and foremost the issue of ocean pollution and increased marine traffic is a question of who is making the decisions, in whose interest. The main issue on this and all issues related to the protection of the environment is who decides what is permitted, how marine traffic is regulated, how Canada’s resources are developed and traded. The MLPC stands with all those who are speaking their minds, getting into action, and organizing to discuss how to provide the problems facing society with solutions. It can be done! It is a matter of empowering ourselves in the fight for what we need.

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