The following is an expanded version of a Letter to the Editor sent to the Victoria Times Colonist responding to an article on tankers.
The gloves have come off. After 18 months of obfuscations and dodging phonecalls from reporters and constituents, Minster Gary Lunn, the MP from Saanich-Gulf Islands has finally stated publicly what was clearly the Conservative government’s covert position. Minister Lunn told the Times Colonist, “There has never been a moratorium on oil tankers in B.C.’s northern inside waters.”
Minister Lunn may have the power to fast-track six proposed tar sands related projects for BC’s north coast, but he doesn’t have the power to change history by simply denying the existence of a well-documented tanker moratorium.
Judith Lavoie’s June 10 Times Colonist article, “Two Takes on Tankers” implies there are two equally supported views on the 35-year old moratorium on oil tankers in northern BC waters. There isn’t.
Lunn’s “no tanker moratorium” claim is pure fiction. Since 1972, dozens of government documents, commissions, panel reports and official statements have attested to the existence of the tanker moratorium. In fact, as recently as 2003 the staff of Natural Resources Canada (Minister Lunn’s own ministry) prepared a chronology (quoted in the article) which confirms the existence of the tanker moratorium. Yet, Minister Lunn has yet to produce one federal government document dated before the Harper government took power that proves his claim that no oil tanker moratorium exists.
Lunn is trying to reverse long-standing government policy. Since 1972 the governments of eight Prime Ministers (5 Liberal and 3 Progressive Conservative) have acknowledged and respected the tanker moratorium. In contrast, since coming to power in 2006, Garry Lunn and Stephen Harper have been spinning various excuses for side-stepping the tanker moratorium and fast tracking six tar sands related projects that could require up to 320 oil and gas tankers in the treacherous northern waters. After initially saying that the tanker moratorium only applies to north-south tankers (as if the risks of oil spills vary with a tankers direction) now they are saying there is no tanker moratorium, and there never was.
Arguing about the past is not the real issue. Eight in ten British Columbians, including over 84% of coastal residents, are concerned about the threat oil and gas tankers pose to fish, wildlife and coastal economies. If Mr. Lunn won’t listen to British Columbians, reverse his position, and stand up and defend BC’s coast against tankers in Ottawa, perhaps voters will find someone else that will.