Speech on Bill C-628: An Act to Defend the Pacific Northwest

Mr. Speaker, 10,000 individuals and organizations, including the provincial government of British Columbia and several first nations, wrote to or appeared before the joint review panel assessing the northern gateway project. Their opposition to the project was nearly unanimous.

    I would like to mention my work as an MP to protect coastal communities, encourage sustainability and protect the marine inland ecosystems. Early in my term I introduced a bill to ban oil tankers off B.C.'s north coast. I also introduced a bill to protect wild salmon by transitioning west coast fish farms to closed containment. I also helped form an all party oceans caucus to inform parliamentarians about issues concerning Canada's oceans and of the opportunities to become a global leader in areas like ocean research. I also introduced a bill to ban the importation of shark fins to Canada, which was based on a UN report on the state of the world's oceans. It concluded our oceans are under threat with major stress from climate change in the form of ocean acidification and that large predators, like sharks, are in serious decline.

    I mention these initiatives because they relate directly to the work of my good friend, the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley and specifically of the intent of the bill to protect our way of life on the west coast not just for current generations but for future generations as well.

    The member Skeena—Bulkley Valley came to my riding late last year. He spoke to a large gathering of my constituents about the impact the Enbridge northern gateway project would have on the north coast if it was to go ahead. He was captivating from the start. He was informative and his stories were engaging. He presented alternatives to what the Conservatives are proposing. He spoke of the bill we are debating today and what they could expect with a New Democratic government. The people really appreciated his presentation, his thoughtful analysis and his well researched proposal. They liked it.

    Energy pipelines and the environment are very much a concern to the people of British Columbia. Not only is there massive opposition to the Enbridge northern gateway pipeline but there is also opposition to Kinder Morgan's trans mountain pipeline proposal. My colleague from Burnaby Douglas and the mayor of Burnaby, Derek Corrigan, and his council have worked hard to expose the shortcomings of the project and the flawed NEB process. We know that over 100 people were arrested on Burnaby Mountain clearly demonstrating their opposition to the pipeline proposal. I attended a rally in September at the Colony Farm Regional Park in my riding where people were very concerned about Kinder Morgan's proposal to use Colony Farm as a staging area for the assembling of the pipes for the section of the proposed new pipeline. People were very opposed to this use of a public park.

    I provided background information to Bill C-628. I spoke of my own work relating to protecting B.C.'s west coast way of life. I should add that even before I was an MP I was concerned about these issues. In 1995 and again in 2000, I swam the 1,400 km length of the Fraser River, one of the world's greatest salmon rivers, to raise awareness about the threats facing this great river system and to our way of life in British Columbia. Over 1.4 million people live within the Fraser River basin. A huge amount of the economy is generated within the basin. The health of the river, like the ocean on B.C.'s north coast, is critical to the health of our way of life on the west coast of Canada.

    What I am saying is, the intent of Bill C-628 is to protect a way of life and to promote a sustainable way of life. It is certainly what motives me to do the work that I do as a parliamentarian. It is why I became an MP and it is why I am happy to support Bill C-628. I would like to thank my colleague for bringing it forward.