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Cullen praises oil tanker ban legislation

Proposed legislation tabled by the federal Liberals in Parliament today to ban crude oil tanker traffic along B.C.’s North Coast is the direct result of decades of hard work by Northwest First Nations and communities to protect sensitive marine environments that have sustained coastal peoples for thousands of years, MP Nathan Cullen said today.

“Congratulations to everyone who has played a part in finally getting the federal government to understand the absolute need for a moratorium on tanker traffic and loading and unloading facilities at ports in northern B.C.,” he said in a press release. “Today is a milestone along a journey that began over 40 years ago to ban crude oil tanker traffic along our precious coast.”

Today, the Government of Canada introduced C-48, the proposed Oil Tanker Moratorium Act in Parliament. This legislation will prohibit oil tankers carrying crude and persistent oils as cargo from stopping, loading or unloading at ports or marine installations in northern British Columbia. It will provide protection for the coastline around Dixon Entrance, Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound.

The proposed moratorium area extends from the Canada/United States border in the north, down to the point on British Columbia’s mainland adjacent to the northern tip of Vancouver Island, and also includes Haida Gwaii. Vessels carrying less than 12,500 metric tonnes of crude or persistent oil as cargo will continue to be permitted in the moratorium area to ensure northern communities can receive critical shipments of heating oils and other products.

The legislation proposes penalty provisions for contravention that could reach up to $5 million. The legislation also proposes flexibility for amendments. Further refined petroleum products can be removed from the list on the basis of science and environmental safety. Products may also be added on this basis.

Cullen says the devil is in the details and the NDP will be watching to make sure study of the proposed legislation is evidence-based and includes people in the Northwest.

Cullen said the bill that is eventually placed before Parliament for a vote “must have the fingerprints of Northwesterners all over it.”

Cullen is pleased the proposed new law uses much of the private member’s bill he introduced in Parliament in 2015 calling for a ban on oil supertankers on the North Coast while instructing the National Energy Board to increase consultation with First Nations and communities and assess value-added job impacts when considering energy projects.

His bill, An Act to Defend the Pacific Northwest, was voted down by the then-Conservative government but resulted in a strong coalition dedicated to defending Northern coastlines, rivers and communities against Northern Gateway. Cullen’s work also robbed the Conservatives of a number of key BC ridings in the 2015 federal election.

Transportation Minister Marc Garneau’s proposed legislation introduced in Parliament this morning would prohibit oil tankers from carrying crude and persistent oils as cargo from stopping, loading or unloading at ports or marine installations in northern B.C.

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