Cullen challenges Conservatives’ Enbridge support following Simushir incident


OCTOBER 20, 2014


OTTAWA – Nathan Cullen rose in Parliament today to challenge Conservative MPs to defend their support of controversial Enbridge supertankers following a tense weekend during which the country watched as emergency officials struggled to gain control of a disabled ship that threatened to spill its cargo of fuel off Haida Gwaii.

“How can Conservatives MPs, especially BC Conservatives, back their government’s plan to put hundreds of huge oil supertankers off the BC coast when we don’t even have the capacity to protect ourselves right now?” Cullen asked.

Cullen noted the Russian-registered, 135-metre Simushir container vessel is only one-third the size of the supertankers Northern Gateway proposes to ply “these very same North Coast waters” to transport raw bitumen to Asian markets.

Cullen today also slammed recent federal cuts that saw $20 million and 300 positions cut from the Canadian Coast Guard. Cullen and his offices have been closely monitoring Canadian and American rescue efforts to secure a tow line to the foundering Simushir, which lost power during an early-season storm off early Friday morning.

The Simushir was successfully taken under commercial tow late yesterday afternoon when an ocean-going tug specifically designed to handle large vessels joined rescue operations. Three tow lines snapped earlier in the day as smaller vessels tried unsuccessfully to divert the Simushir and its cargo of almost 600 metric tonnes of fuel away from the rocky western shores of Moresby Island. The Simushir arrived safely in Prince Rupert late last night.

“This incident provides another glaring example of why oil supertanker traffic is simply not an option along the BC coast,” Cullen said. “There are some things that just shouldn’t be done, and that includes allowing oil supertankers to travel the dangerous waters off the BC North Coast with potentially deadly cargo.”

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Contact: Shelley Browne,, 250-877-4140