Environmentalist accuses Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff of only wanting to protect half the B.C. coast

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      A Vancouver environmental activist isn't impressed by a federal Liberal promise to ban tankers from the northern B.C. coast.

      Rex Weyler, who is with a citizens' group called No Tanks, told the Georgia Straight that oil tankers are already travelling through Burrard Inlet, which isn't covered by the Liberal proposal.

      "Why protect half of a coast?" Weyler asked. "In fact, you're not protecting any of the coast because if you still have tankers coming in and out of Burrard Inlet, an oil spill anywhere along the coast is a problem."

      Earlier today (June 21), Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff promised that if his party is elected, it will pass a law banning oil supertankers in Hecate Strait, Dixon Entrance, and Queen Charlotte Sound.

      Ignatieff stopped short of promising a legislated ban on tanker traffic across the entire B.C. coast.

      Vancouver-Quadra Liberal MP Joyce Murray told the Straight by phone that the ban on tankers in northern B.C. inland waters is part of "a very comprehensive set of commitments".

      They include halting all exploration, and leasing of drilling rights in the Arctic Ocean, expanding marine protected areas, and requiring better contingency plans for addressing spills.

      "Michael feels strongly about having a good program for protecting ocean ecosystems and coastal communities that are so intricately connected with them," Murray said.

      Enbridge has filed an application to federal regulatory authorities for approval to build a pipeline from the Alberta tar sands to Kitimat. If approved, the oil would be shipped through Queen Charlotte Sound on tankers.

      Murray said that First Nations on the coast have been "unequivocal" in their opposition to tankers in inland northern waters.

      "There are pipelines coming to other parts of the coast, the south coast for example," she noted. "Enbridge has other alternatives."

      Weyler said that the First Nations have already indicated that they won't allow the Enbridge pipeline across Northern B.C. He added that he didn't understand why the Liberals want to ban oil exports from northern inland waters, where there is no tanker traffic, but don't want to ban them from Burrard Inlet, where there are exports.

      "This approach of saying we're going to protect half a coast does not make any sense to me," Weyler said. "A spill in Vancouver harbour would devastate the economy of Vancouver."

      When asked why the legislated ban on tankers won't apply to Burrard Inlet, Murray responded: "It is something we're interested in hearing more about."

      Two years ago, certified management accountant Bill Gannon noticed tankers travelling through Burrard Inlet.

      Gannon prepared a "risk assessment", which he distributed to the media on May 9 along with a letter.

      "I inquired and discovered that they were loading crude oil at Westridge Terminal in Burnaby," Gannon wrote in his letter. "Since then, local tanker traffic has increased to about two tankers per week."

      He added that he has written to local mayors, his MP and MLA, and Premier Gordon Campbell outlining the financial and environmental risks facing Vancouver.

      "I asked them to support a ban on the shipment of crude oil through Burrard Inlet," Gannon stated. "The few responses I received from our mayors and Gulf Islands Trustees suggested that I raise my concerns with the Federal Government, which they would have known I had done, had they actually read my report."

      Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.

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      Petey J

      Jun 21, 2010 at 6:56pm

      Harpo will approve of Enbridge because he's an oily _ _ _ _ & what else is he known for ?
      spend our $$$ on fake lakes. & if Enbridge spills; hey it's ok they'll build us a lake

      Evil Eye

      Jun 22, 2010 at 10:07am

      Iggy, thought he didn't even know where BC was?


      Jun 22, 2010 at 2:16pm

      This is exactly why environmentalist always fail, because they are ruthlessly critical of each other rather than supportive of the incremental gains thye've achieved. There would be oil tankers on the north coast AND the south coast if this ban didn't exist. Of course it's important to protect the entire coast, but that doesn't make partial protection invalid. Weyler should be ashamed of himself. His comments are divisive and condescending.

      We're supposed to be in this together right? The left is divided enough already. Let's not make it any worse.


      Jun 23, 2010 at 12:34am

      Citizen has a fair point, but fails to take into account that incoherent arguments made by overzealous keyboard wielders (I'm not naming names) are as detrimental to the betterment of the human race as division is.

      George T. Baker

      Jun 23, 2010 at 2:11pm

      "The few responses I received from our mayors and Gulf Islands Trustees suggested that I raise my concerns with the Federal Government, which they would have known I had done, had they actually read my report."

      That just made my afternoon.


      Jun 24, 2010 at 4:05pm

      Michael Ignatieff has been sniffing around Vancouver lately. What's with that? I don't trust him (and STILL don't understand his history. Where did he come from, ...really? What has he said and done before he got elected.) He seems awfully similar to Mr. Harper.
      Past paperwork had our coast protected. It was understood; suddenly now it's not valid? What's with that?

      Would new legislation make it stronger, or permanently weaken what we had before?

      Does the wording mean they would just pipe it through the far north to Alaska -and leave us at the same high risk? Gotta give that oil away fast, before something gives.

      The planet needs a 'politician prophylactic' with teeth!


      Jun 29, 2010 at 3:53pm

      So if we can't ship hydrocarbons across water, what will Vancouver Island do for fuel? What about Hawaii? What about every other island in the world where oil isn't found? Australia's in trouble.... so is Ireland. At least Brittain has the Chunnel.