New Democrat legislation would protect ecosystem and economies of coastal communities

Today, on World Oceans Day, Canada’s New Democrats call on the federal government to respect the majority wishes of British Columbians by immediately legislating an oil tanker ban off BC’s north coast.

“A minor oil spill off BC’s north coast would devastate the ecosystem, the fishery and coastal communities,” said New Democrat Fisheries and Oceans Critic Fin Donnelly. “That why it’s time to introduce legislation to permanently ban tanker traffic.”

A poll conducted in April 2011 reconfirmed results showing that 80% of British Columbians are opposed to oil tanker traffic off the rugged north coast. First Nations, community groups and residents have been clear in their desire for a legislated ban, yet the government continues to push forward with this plan.

“Harper must respect the majority that counts when it comes to our coastline,” said Nathan Cullen (Skeena-Bulkely Valley). “Winning a majority of seats in the House of Commons does not give you the right to overrule the will of a majority of British Columbians, First Nations, and municipalities that are clear in saying: no to tankers off our northern coast and no to a pipeline that brings our region few benefits and tremendous risks.”

The proposed Enbridge pipeline, slated to run from the Alberta tar sands to the BC coast, would bring more than 225 oil supertankers yearly through to the dangerous and remote northern BC coast, placing this diverse and fragile ecosystem at risk.

“The federal government must listen to the will of British Columbians and protect our coastline,” said Donnelly. “We must act in the best interest of our future generations and legislate a tanker ban in the Dixon Entrance, Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound.”