Courtenay-Alberni Member of Parliament Gord Johns this week called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to act locally in regards to ocean plastics.
While the federal government announced yesterday that it will ask all G7 nations to sign a “no plastics” pledge to save the world’s oceans, Johns said this government has still not helped with clean-up efforts on Vancouver Island.
“While it is gratifying that the Prime Minister seems to be answering the call of so many environmental groups and advocates to address this crisis internationally, the job has yet to be done on our own Canadian beaches and coastal waters,” he said.
“The government’s so-called world-class Ocean Protection Plan does not mention plastics at all and, in particular, makes no mention of the response required when marine debris are spilled into the ocean and wash up on our precious coasts”.
On the first anniversary of the Hanjin Seattle cargo ship spill — an accident that created a massive debris field along the west coast of Vancouver Island — Johns tabled a motion (M-151) that called on the government to combat plastic pollution in aquatic environments. The motion included the ask for a dedicated annual fund to help local first responders restore the environment.
Johns has repeatedly brought the issue to the House of Commons, rising over 20 times since being elected in 2015 to demand government action on ocean plastics and other marine debris. In addition, he has sponsored a petition that has been signed by hundreds of coastal residents on this issue.
“A pledge by G7 nations is all well and good but the reality is that when large spills like Hanjin occur, the Liberal government expects local citizens living on our coasts and remote First Nations to respond without the support they need to ensure that the job can be done efficiently and with a minimum of risk,” said Johns. “Yes it is time to think globally, but we must first act locally on this critical issue.”
Local community groups have cleaned up the beaches without any adequate help from the current government, says Johns. Government officials have admitted there is a near complete legislative and regulatory void for marine debris cleanup and there is no dedicated fund available to support response efforts.