An abandoned boat recovered by the Port Edward Harbour Authority. (Submitted)

Cullen reflects on 2017

The member of Parliament reviewed what’s to come in the new year in his last scrum of 2017

During his last press conference of the year with regional media, Nathan Cullen looked back on 2017 from Parliament Hill.

Phoenix remains an issue

“The Phoenix fiasco just keeps on going. We have people from around the northwest working for federal agencies who are just living a nightmare of not getting the right pay,” Cullen said during the Dec. 14 telephone conference. “The government keeps calling it unacceptable. They’ve spent close to $500 million so far trying to fix it. It hasn’t been fixed.”

The member of parliament said that he is calling on the government to consider a reset.

“It seems like we’re throwing a lot of good money after a lot of bad money.”

READ and WATCH: Phoenix payroll protesters rally in Prince Rupert

Abandoned vessels act grounded

Minister Marc Garneau’s Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act would have made the owners of decrepit vessels financially responsible through steep penalties and potential jail time. The Liberal government’s vessel act, Cullen said, doesn’t hold the same weight.

“The federal government quickly rushed through their own bill and said, ‘Oh, it’s the same thing.’ There’s a procedural trick in the House of Commons to wipe out the first bill from my colleague. Well, their bill has nothing that our bill has in it,” Cullen said.

READ MORE: Cullen: Abandoned vessel act is missing teeth

“One of the things we’ve learned through experience and why the mayors up and down the coast support our legislation is because if you can’t find out who the owner is, you can’t make them pay to get rid of their boat. So, what’s the point of having a new piece of legislation that isn’t going to change anything in the real world?”

Through a secret ballot, it was decided that Garneau’s bill wouldn’t be heard in the House of Commons. Cullen called the process an “anti-democratic stunt” to shut down the conversation before it started.

“It’s very frustrating to me as a member of parliament where we have an idea that’s probably supported by Canadians,” Cullen said. “It has merit, and we’re not even able to present it because of some ancient rule that the Liberals dug up and then were able to shut us down.”

READ MORE: Port Edward Harbour Authority applies for funding to remove abandoned boats under new ban

Petronas out, Pembina in

Cullen said he has met with Pembina and visited the proposed project on Watson Island, after the announcement that the company will build a small-scale propane terminal on 10 per cent of the decommisioned land.

“My concerns remain always the same: what does this mean for local jobs, what First Nations agreements are in place, and what potential impact does this have on the environment?” Cullen said.

“They seem to have mostly satisfied all of those boxes. It’ll have a good economic impact in Prince Rupert and the North Coast and seems to have a much broader First Nations support than some of the LNG projects that have been proposed. So it passes most of the tests on that regard.”

READ and WATCH: Pembina’s Watson Island plans unveiled at open house

Greyhound: freight service vs. human service

After recent meetings in Terrace and Smithers, Cullen said he is concerned about Greyhound pulling its bus service from the North Coast.

“Especially in light of the tragedy of so many women and girls going missing along our highway, the fact that Greyhound came out — I think they made their announcement while the inquiry was in the Northwest, which shows their total lack of understanding and sensitivity to where we live. It is an essential service,” Cullen said.

During the scrum, the member of parliament said he planned to meet with Greyhound in the coming days or in the new year to discuss what, if any, federal measures could be taken.

He called the bus service unpopular, and added that the scheduled times were a safety concern.

“I think it’s because they’re moving freight and making freight their top priority, and that’s what we heard at some of the hearings. They’re shipping good and packages and that’s the timing that works best for their freight service as opposed to their human service,” Cullen said, calling on Greyhound to work with communities to find a solution that works for everyone.

In response to Greyhound’s request for public funding, Cullen said that while he understands the company is private, the licence they operate under in B.C. includes the whole province — not just the most profitable routes.

He’s concerned that the bus service is looking for an excuse to leave the northern region, and said to stay tuned on conversations to come with the company.

“I’ll advocate for anything that makes sense, especially if it keeps businesses happy and keeps our people safe.”

READ MORE: Greyhound calls for public transportation fund



keili.bartlett@thenorthernview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Kurka keeps thing official

The longtime hockey referee has been on the ice in Prince Rupert for more than 30 years

Rampaging towards the playoffs

The Prince Rupert Rampage beat the Terrace River Kings 8-5 on Jan. 20

Sweet tradition returns: Sugar Shack 2018

The 2018 Sugar Shack festival celebrates Francophone culture in Prince Rupert Jan. 24-27

Joie de vivre

Finding those “awe” moments with family, friends and food

Christians unite for one service in Rupert

Father Terry Brock is hoping to unite all of Prince Rupert’s Christians under one roof for one night

This Week Episode 68

From inside the Northern View office in Prince Rupert we bring you all the news headlines

Carriers wanted for the Northern View

We have open routes for carriers all over Prince Rupert

Liberals quietly tap experts to write new paternity leave rules

Ideas include creating an entirely new leave benefit similar to one that exists in Quebec

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Final phase of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy trials to kick off in B.C.

Doctors hope to get psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy legalized in Canada and the U.S. by 2021

VIDEO: Thousands join women’s march events across B.C.

Today marks one year since the first Women’s March on Washington

Two Canadians, two Americans abducted in Nigeria are freed

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway

Are you ready for some wrestling? WWE’s ‘Raw’ marks 25 years

WWE flagship show is set to mark its 25th anniversary on Monday

B.C. woman who forged husband’s will gets house arrest

Princeton Judge says Odelle Simmons did not benefit from her crime

Most Read