Tsimshian: MLA Demands Legislation
Below is an article published by: The Northern View
March 24 marked the 20-year anniversary of the Exxon Valdez hitting a reef in Prince William Sound in Alaska and spilling 40 million litres of oil in the water, and North Coast MLA Gary Coons used the events of 1989 to remind provincial politicians of the importance of the unofficial oil tanker moratorium along B.C.’s coastline - specifically in the North.
“Northern B.C. Communities and First Nations are facing crude oil projects through their salmon rivers and oil tankers through their ecologically rich marine waterways and their attempts to push aside a 37-year tanker moratorium along British Columbia's inside waters, which has survived eight Prime Ministers and nine B.C. Premiers. Recent polling shows 77 percent of British Columbians feel that affected communities should have a first say in deciding if crude oil tankers should be allowed on our coast,” he said during a statement in the Legislature.
“Proposed tanker routes include the waterways along the Great Bear rain forest and through the fragile marine ecosystems of Tsimshian and Haida traditional territory. The Nuxalk, the Heiltsuk, the Oweekenoand, especially, the Gitga'at, from Hartley Bay, are all distressed with the thought of supertankers loaded with dirty oil from Alberta's tar sands traveling through B.C.'s sensitive Inside Passage. In a recent Gitga'at press release entitled Disaster Déjà vu in Canada's Great Bear Rain Forest, band councillor Cameron Hill stated: ‘There is nothing but risk in this whole process for the Gitga'at people. There are no benefits.’”
A number of environmental groups around the country and the province named March 24 as No Tanker Day, and Coons said it is time for the government to heed their calls for some stronger rules about tanker traffic along the coast.
“It's time to strengthen the existing tanker moratorium through a legislated prohibition on crude oil tanker traffic in our sensitive northern waters.”