Vancouver – Following a major fuel spill into Vancouver’s English Bay, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and his BC team are making a clear commitment to reversing the damage of Stephen Harper’s dangerous cuts to oil spill response and marine safety resources on the BC coast.
“I used to live in this neighbourhood, and I know that any spills of this nature are of serious concern to British Columbians and all Canadians,” said Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau. “Stephen Harper’s cuts to marine safety resources and the closure of Vancouver’s Kitsilano Coast Guard Base each undermine our ability to respond to spills like this. A new Liberal government will re-open a full-service Coast Guard station in Vancouver and re-invest in marine safety and oil spill response capacity on the BC coast.”
Harper’s Conservatives have cut Transport Canada’s funding for marine safety programs by over 27% since 2009. Cuts in BC alone have included the closure of the Kitsilano Coast Guard station alongside Canada’s busiest port, the closure of three BC Marine Communication and Traffic Centres, and cuts to oil spill response coordination resources.
“Marine safety experts are highlighting how Stephen Harper’s closure of the Kitsilano Coast Guard base had a profoundly negative impact on response capabilities following this spill, and the consequences for Vancouver’s local waters and shorelines are deeply alarming,” said Dr. Hedy Fry, Liberal MP for Vancouver Centre. “We are incredibly thankful for the service of the first responders and crews who have worked to contain the damage, and Justin Trudeau’s commitment will help ensure that Vancouver’s economy and environment will never again be similarly put at risk.”
Harper’s cuts to marine safety resources and oil spill response capacity have come even as marine traffic continues to increase through Vancouver and along the BC coast.
The public perception that Conservative governments are best managers of the economy has been the most successful propaganda program in Canadian history... and the Harper government can certainly claim (no myth) to be the best spinmeisters in politics.
Hon. Hedy Fry (Vancouver Centre, Liberal Party of Canada): Mr. Speaker, currently small craft are not allowed to dump sewage less than three miles from Vancouver's coastal waters.
Transport Canada is thinking of reducing this to one mile, which will cause a serious public health hazard, increasing E. coli contamination, on the busy beaches in Vancouver where kids and locals swim.
Public health officers, health authorities and municipalities have raised concerns with the minister. Will she ensure Canadians that she will prevent this public health catastrophe and abandon this reckless idea?
Hon. Lisa Raitt (Minister of Transport, CPC): Mr. Speaker, it is true that Transport Canada is reviewing these guidelines. As such, we welcome input from all members of Parliament, indeed all Canadians across the country with respect to changes that are being considered.
To download a copy of Dr. Fry's petition to retain the three-mile sewage dumping limit, please click here.
Recent media reports indicate Transport Canada is conducting consultations to allow small pleasure craft, with less than 15 passengers, to dump sewage waste a short one nautical mile from shore, far less than the current regulation of three nautical miles. This proposed change will greatly affect the water safety surrounding Vancouver’s beaches, putting public health at risk.