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REPORTING · 24th March 2011
Walter McFarlane
Joyce Murray, the Liberal Member of Parliament for the Vancouver Quadra Riding was in Kitimat on Friday, March 18th at the Kitimat Public Library. Dave Shannon from Terrace and the Douglas Channel Watch introduced Murray. She was there to present information on Bill C606, a bill which would ban tankers on the BC Coast.

“I’m here about sustainable Economic Development which is what my bill is all about,” said Murray, “to protect the North Coast from oil spills.”

Murray explained when she started in the forestry business, there were not a lot of regulations and companies could clear right down to the waterfront and across salmon streams. People told them this was not right. They wanted mill jobs but also wanted to protect the forest in the long term, as well as salmon.

She said it was possible to have prosperity, development and to protect the environment but people have to be smart about how they go about this.

Murray stated this bill goes back further then Nathan Cullen’s motion in the fall. It goes back to Pierre Trudeau. His government did not want oil being transported from Alaska to the United States in British Columbia’s inland waters. They made it clear the tankers had to go to the western coast of Vancouver Island and Haida Gwaii.

“This also included a moratorium on tankers in the inland waters on the east side of Haida Gwaii. This was called the tanker moratorium and that has also been in place since those days,” said Murray.

Last June, Liberal Party Leader Michael Ignatieff held a press conference supporting the ban and calling for more solid protection from oil spills on the West Coast. Murray said there were 56,000 jobs which rely on the way things are now and would be at risk from an oil spill. She said parts of the north coast were world renowned. She added the jobs, which would be created by Enbridge, were also important jobs.

“I think it is important that we reflect on the fact that people have lived on the coast of British Columbia for 10, maybe 15000 years,” said Murray. “People have lived side by side on the ocean for so long and the reason that we continue to do that and the reason that we will be able to do that 100 years in the future or more is because we are respectful of our impact. We are careful where and how we develop.”

Murray said this is her concern and the concern of the Liberal Party going back to Trudeau. “If there is a risk, no matter how small, we know Murphy’s Law. Eventually, we’re going to have that spill.”

She stated this is not the place to transport oil and there has to be better ways to transport oil. This is not about the creation of wealth in Canada but how to transport that wealth. She stated piping and transporting it through tankers were not the way. She pointed out 50% of the spills were caused by human error.

She concluded there is no science that tells them how diluted bitumen would react in a spill. The Northcoast is currently unprepared for a spill. Murray took questions and answers from those gathered regarding the bill.