2019 FEDERAL ELECTION: North Island-Powell River candidates discuss marine traffic and ocean protection

In an effort to inform the North Island-Powell River 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 North Island-Powell River candidates have been asked the following question:

“How do you envision your party’s role in dealing with increased marine traffic along B.C.’s coast, particularly with regards to oil and gas industry shipping routes?”

(Order of placement was done at random. Order will be rotated in each subsequent article.)

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MARK de BRUIJN

Green Party of Canada

Mark de Bruijn is the Green Party of Canada candidate for the North Island-Powell River riding. Photo supplied

The Green Party of Canada is strongly protective of our precious marine environment and the coastal communities that depend on it. We are very pleased that the government recently passed a permanent ban for tankers on the North Coast.

This ban needs to be extended to fuel barges and other vessels carrying large volumes of petroleum products. These are a growing problem up and down the coast, of which the recent sinking of the Nathan E. Stewart with its huge diesel spill is an example. Such traffic must be restricted to the open ocean whenever possible. Stringent controls and dedicated support vessels must accompany any such fuel-laden craft in our inner waters, and when coming in and out of ports. And we need to develop a world-class response capacity to the inevitablilty of hydrocarbon spills.

The Green Party has always strongly opposed the shipment of diluted bitumen by any means, which includes the TransMountain Pipeline and its attendant increase in Aframax tanker traffic. There is no proven way to effectively contain or clean up a marine spill of this highly toxic and unpredictable product.

Methane is 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. We must discontinue fracking for natural gas and stop all LNG projects along our coast. This will not only reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, but noise pollution, spills and the possibility of a major escapement of this highly explosive substance are also of major concern.

We have entered a new era of green energy, and as the world begins to transition to this in a large and accelerated way, the environmental and economic risks of fossil fuels will increase. The jobs and revenues that once flowed from petroleum will be shifted to the new green economy.

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PETER SCHWARZHOFF

Liberal Party of Canada

Peter Schwarzhoff is the Liberal Party of Canada candidate for the North Island-Powell River riding. Photo supplied.

Canada has the longest coastline in the world. Our coasts support traditional Indigenous and coastal community livelihoods, attract tourism, and enable the export and import of our goods overseas. They are home to an abundance of Canadian fisheries, and play a key role in strengthening the economy and growing our middle class. That is why the Liberal government launched the Oceans Protection Plan. At $1.5 billion it is the single-largest investment in Canadian history to protect our oceans.

We are creating a world-leading marine safety system that provides economic opportunities for Canadians today, while protecting our coasts and waterways for generations to come. This work is being done in close collaboration with Indigenous peoples, local stakeholders and coastal communities.

The Canadian Coast Guard will have more people and more equipment to do its vital work.

Two large tow vessels will be on-call on the BC coast. Several Coast Guard vessels will be equipped with specialized tow equipment. Primary Environmental Response Teams composed of dedicated, specially trained personnel will further strengthen the Coast Guard’s existing on-scene operations.

Our Liberal government has placed an oil tanker moratorium on the north coast

The Oceans Protection Plan focuses on protecting important species across our oceans.

The Liberal government is also strengthening the polluter-pay principle, which will ensure that adequate industry-funded compensation is available for those affected by oil spills. Polluters – not Canadians – should be responsible for cleaning up oil spills in our oceans.

Four key ways the Ocean Protection Plan will support coastal communities: A world-leading marine safety system that improves responsible shipping, protects Canada’s waters, and strengthens response measures; Restoring and protecting marine ecosystem and natural habitats; Strengthening partnerships and launching co-management practices with Indigenous and coastal communities; and Investing in oil spill clean-up methods and research.

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SHELLEY DOWNEY

Conservative Party of Canada

Shelley Downey is the Conservative Party of Canada candidate for the North Island-Powell River riding. Photo supplied.

Canada’s Conservatives strongly support the protection of our oceans, rivers and fisheries. We have always believed in being good stewards of our environment. Many of our resources are transported to markets using our oceans. We also recognize the importance of fisheries to rural and coastal communities, especially in British Columbia.

Dealing with increased marine traffic will require a concerted effort to ensure that we protect our waters and marine life. A Conservative government will work with coastal provinces, industry experts and business leaders to develop flexible shipping routes, based on scientific data, to reduce the impacts of shipping.

I also believe it is important for MPs to meet with those impacted to better understand their concerns and ensure that federal government policies aren’t negatively impacting their livelihoods.

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RACHEL BLANEY

New Democratic Party

Rachel Blaney is seeking re-election in the North Island-Powell River riding. Photo supplied.

The coast is vital to the people who live in our riding. Living, working and playing in the ocean is part of our history and our future. As we face the challenges and the impacts of climate change, the risks to our coast continue to grow. We can all agree it is time for change. Recently in our region, two Environment Canada weather stations were not working, one for almost a year and the other for over three months.

After working for months with local mariners and talking to the ministries, we were pleased when the stations came back online.

Sadly, I quickly learned that it was not the ministry who had fixed them. It was local, unnamed people who went out to change the batteries. When I think of the promises made to protect our ocean from an oil spill, this makes me really concerned. Local people are here, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous; people who work and live on the coast have wisdom that should be listened to. We need more ministry staff, here, on the ground. If they don’t have the resources to fix weather stations, how are they going to deal with an oil spill? I will continue to fight for local solutions. I want to see emissions go down, see local wisdom included in plans going forward and more local staff hired to address issues as they arise. It is unfair to ask so few to do so much. We need a comprehensive plan that includes input from all stakeholders that protects our oceans and keeps the people who use them safe.

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BRIAN RUNDLE

People’s Party of Canada

People’s Party of Canada North Island-Powell River candidate Brian Rundle. Photo supplied.

Our party would increase the resources that Fisheries and Oceans have to build improved infrastructure to increase safety and regulation of marine traffic on our West Coast. The oil and gas industry is a vital and necessary part of our economy and will be supported but also regulated and held responsible to ensure safety of the marine environment. An environmental assessment shows that cumulative oil tanker traffic in the Georgian Strait will be reduced if the Trans Mountain pipeline is built to service our refineries in Burnaby as tankers will no longer need to dock in Washington state northern refineries as they would get their oil from a spur pipeline from Canada. The environment is sacred to keep pristine but we need to also allow for economic activity to support our economy.

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