NRCan’s Minister ‘truth’ veers farther from the facts.

After months of silence Gary Lunn has finally come out and stated publicly “Canada’s New Government’s” position on the moratorium on tanker traffic through the Dixon Entrance, Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound. According to the Tories it never existed.

Those reams of official federal government documents, the three reports by his own ministry, the Department of Fishery and Oceans time lines contained in powerpoint presentations, all the material we’ve amassed that clearly indicated that the moratorium has been Canadian Government policy for the last 35 years – According to Minister Lunn and Stephen Harper’s Conservatives none of it is as good as the paper it’s printed on.

Seems that former Ministry of Natural Resources staff, the Royal Society of Canada, former Ministers of the Environment , even eight past Prime Ministers have all been duped into believing BC’s inside coastal waters were safe from oil tankers.  Thanks for setting the record straight Minister Lunn. Under your able leadership our waters are not safe.

Listening to Mr. Lunn I’m beginning to wonder if any documents from the Federal Government represent reality, or if he has designated himself the sole arbitrator of the truth on tankers. Case in point his statement that “there are no projects before the government to build any new onshore facility [that would require tankers].”

I just happened to be browsing the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency website recently and came across the “Enbridge Gateway Pipeline and Marine Infrastructure Project” listed as actively under review. Perhaps the detailed proposal for an “oil sands product pipeline”, import condensate pipeline, marine oil tanker terminal facilities and marine transport of oil and condensate doesn’t count. Another fabrication by ill-informed civil servants perhaps?

Enbridge has put the Gateway Project on hold, yet the Federal Government has insisted on keeping their application active. This despite calls from environmental groups and a First Nations lawsuit that demand the termination of the application. Seems like the Feds are keen to hold Enbridge’s place in the queue.

As a spokesman for the Conservative government Minister Lunn’s position is apparently “trust us, the fate of our coast is in good hands”. Given his propensity for whitewashing history and fabricating facts he thinks we should wait for another application to come forward and watch as Canada’s biggest pro-oil government is lobbied by the planets wealthiest industry. I don’t think so. There is too much at risk.

Oil spill emergency advisors we’ve talked to, pilots, and coastal workers familiar with the proposed tanker route see the current proposals as absolute folly. The conditions in Queen Charlotte Sound, Hecate Strait and the Douglas Channel are just not suitable for massive tankers carrying petroleum products. It is not called the “Graveyard of the Pacific” for nothing. Hurricane force winds are routine, navigation hazards are numerous and tidal currents exceed the effective limits for oil booms.

The oil industry considers a 15% cleanup of a spill in ideal conditions a success. The conditions along our coast are far from ideal. Canadian oil spill cleanup regulations demand that companies have plans in place for spill up to 10,000 tonnes. The supertankers considered for the Kitimat route can carry up to 417,000 tonnes. That leaves an awful lot of oil in the water.  

Nothing Mr. Lunn says changes the very real risk oil tanker traffic poses to our communities, economy and ecology. If Lunn could clean up an oil spill by simply denying it every happened he would indeed be one slick politician. But lets not count on it.