The B.C. Liberals’ recent call for the federal government the increase coast guard presence is too little, too late, say New Democrats.
While New Democrats have been fighting the coast guard’s decreasing presence for months, the Liberals have been sitting back and watching while the federal government proposed massive cuts on not only the coast guard but other services that help protect B.C.’s environment, like the ocean pollution monitoring program and the West Coast oil spill response centre which was moved to Montreal.
These are just a few examples of the Liberal pattern of not standing up for B.C.’s environment:
Failing to participate in the Northern Gateway Pipeline Project’s joint review panel
The premier stated that Enbridge’s proposed pipeline will “have some benefit for British Columbia, but not a large one, although British Columbians will be taking 100 per cent of the risk." [CBC The Current, June 13, 2012] In spite of this, the Liberals have failed to represent B.C.’s best interests and submit evidence as a participant in the joint review panel process.
Supporting changes which weaken the environmental assessment process
The Liberals refused to stand up against the federal omnibus bill which completely rewrites the Environmental Assessment Act and weakens the assessment process. It also shortens the list of protected species, abolishes the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, and guts the Fisheries Act. The Liberal environment minister even supported removing habitat protection and other damaging changes to the fisheries act, saying “it's probably about time the Fisheries Act was updated to recognize the changing environment that we have today.” [Hansard, May 16, 2012]
Reneging on promise to ban cosmetic pesticides
The premier, in her by-election campaign, said, “I support banning the use of cosmetic pesticides, and I've supported this for years now… I promised that I want to pursue that if I became premier. We're going to do it.” [Vancouver Sun, May 5, 2011] Yet, the Liberal majority on her Special Committee on Cosmetic Pesticides failed to live up to her promise and recommended instead status-quo regulations. Committee chair MLA Bill Bennett proved how out of touch the government is on this issue when he went so far as to call the majority of British Columbians in support of a ban “politically motivated left wing conspiracy theorists.” [The Tyee, May 31, 2012]
No plan for Tsunami debris
The Liberals’ plan to deal with the massive amount of debris headed for our coast from last year’s devastating tsunami in Japan is an uncoordinated reliance on volunteers. They have failed to work with local governments to lay out a real strategy or any funding to deal with the potentially dangerous materials. While debris has already begun to litter our shores, Environment Minister Terry Lake has called the problem “hypothetical”, suggesting “most of the [tsunami] material will not make its way over here. “[Vancouver Sun, June 23, 2012]
Rob Fleming, New Democrat Environment Critic: “This Liberal government is consistently slow-off-the-mark when it comes to standing up for B.C.’s environment. The B.C. Liberals have been completely missing in action over Ottawa’s cutbacks and legislative roll backs of protections for the environmental health of our land, freshwater and marine coast. They have no real plan to protect our coast from the risk of incidents that could have irreversible impacts on our environment.”