MP Nathan Cullen, is calling on the Federal Government to pass a ban on oil tanker traffic off the North Coast, and is planning to introduce a private member’s bill that would do just that if passed by the Conservative-controlled House of Commons.
“The gover-nment has been trying to spin a line that because they’re now a majority, it’s an endorsement to run over the interests of northern BC and all of British Columbia, really. 40 per cent of the vote does not give them the legitimacy to undervalue our voices. The First Nations and other groups are not going to stand for this idea that the government can simply do what it wants,” said Cullen.
According to Cullen, the NDP planned to introduce a private member’s bill this past Monday that, if passed, would put in place a federal ban of oil tanker traffic off the North Coast. The bill will be entered into the slowly growing pool of private member’s legislation that are chosen to be voted on by the House of Commons at random; meaning that the bill could potentially never get a chance to be voted on at all.
The NDP could have introduced the bill on one of its Opposition Days, therefore guaranteeing that it would come to a vote, but Cullen says that they had already used an Opposition Day on a tanker ban within the past six months, and the party was not likely to use another on the same topic.
Even introducing a tanker ban bill at all arguably amounts to little more than political theatre, since the Conse-rvatives majority means that if the bill makes to a vote, they would have to change their opposition towards a tanker ban for it to pass, which is something that is unlikely to happen. Cullen says he doesn’t expect the Conser-vatives to suddenly embrace a tanker ban.
“When it comes to a vote we’re pretty sure we know which way the Conservatives are going to go, but this is also about the political pressure. This is a very threatening issue to them since they almost lost two seats on it…They’re trying to frame the issue as a done-deal and that it’s no big deal, when we know its quite the opposite,” says Cullen.
The oil tanker ban is largely directed at stopping the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Project. The company says that it isn’t surprised that the NDP is raising the issue in the house again, since it has seen similar bills introduced in the House before.
But, representatives of the company say that such legislation is can be very vague, and without proper clarification it could harm existing businesses interests whole trying to prevent new ones from being established.
“Is it specifically aimed at one type of tanker? One particular terminal? I think it needs some clarification, because there is already a considerable off the coat of British Columbia that could be potentially impacted by this sort of legislation,” say Enbridge representative, Paul Stanway.