Supertankers plying B.C.'s North Coast would be 'pure madness': Mulcair

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VANCOUVER - Touring the Douglas Channel on British Columbia's North Coast has convinced federal Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair it would be "pure madness" to allow supertankers carrying raw bitumen to ply the narrow passage.

The New Democratic Party leader said Tuesday the planned route for exporting oil to Asia "makes no sense," and that's why his party would introduce legislation barring the transport option if it was in power.

"It's not just a question of personal opinion," Mulcair told reporters in Vancouver after spending the previous day in the region to the north.

"We'd set out clear criteria that would make sure a supertanker would no longer be allowed along that pristine coast."

The 90-kilometre-long Douglas Channel links the Pacific Ocean to the District of Kitimat, the would-be terminus of the controversial Northern Gateway oil pipeline.

The project would see hundreds of tankers a year ply the channel carrying bitumen from the Alberta oilsands.

Mulcair met Monday with officials from Kitimat and with leaders of the Haisla First Nation and Gitga'at Nation of Hartley Bay.

Asked about the landmark Supreme Court of Canada decision last month that granted aboriginal title for the first time to the Tsilhqot'in Nation who live in B.C.'s Interior, Mulcair said an NDP government would establish a "nation-to-nation" relationship with First Nations.

Respecting First Nations' inherent rights, treaty rights and Canada's international obligations is not only "the right thing to do legally, but the smart thing to do economically," he said.

There have been about 120 court rulings that show aboriginal rights are not being respected, he said.

"If you don't get it right with regard to first Nations, a lot of development projects in this country will not go through.

"We've got to start listening to the courts instead of fighting with them."

Organizations: New Democratic Party, Douglas Channel on British Columbia, Haisla First Nation Supreme Court of Canada First Nations

Geographic location: B.C., North Coast, VANCOUVER Kitimat Asia Pacific Ocean Alberta Hartley Bay Canada

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Recent comments

  • Maurice E. Adams
    August 20, 2014 - 10:56

    With a combined 35+ years with Coast Guard (Transport Canada and DFO), now retired, as an air (and later on) a marine traffic controller/regulator, let me say that the existing system (and anything that I have seen planned) is far from sufficient to provide the level of safety required to allow for supertankers to ply many of our hazardous coastal and offshore waters. About half of that 35 years included my role as the NL Region's Regional Operations Officer for Vessel Traffic Services, responsible for standards development and quality assurance of the Coast Guard component responsible for monitoring, providing 'traffic clearances', regulating and directing tanker and other traffic in NL's Vessel Traffic Services and Canada's Eastern Canada Traffic Zone. How good a job did Transport Canada do with respect to the railroad disaster in Quebec?

  • Jim G.
    August 19, 2014 - 19:13

    The same special interest groups that rely on increasing tax revenues to pay themselves more money are the same groups that do not want any revenue generating activities. It just grows on trees. Either allow these activities to go on or with the same declaration state that we are all willing to take a pay cut in order to cancel these projects. Under no circumstances should money be borrowed to increase salaries and services which in effect is asking future generations to pay for our current lifestyle.

    • Gerry down the road
      August 20, 2014 - 08:20

      Your argument that 'asking future generations to pay for our current lifestyle' is the exact argument that your "special interest groups" make in response to demands that industry be allowed to exploit our natural resources, regardless of the environmental damage that may be done. Who, by the way, are these "special interest groups?" I assume you don't mean the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.