Cullen motion seeks to protect northern waters from catastrophic oil spills

OTTAWASkeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen introduced a motion in Parliament this morning calling for an immediate ban on oil supertankers in the hazardous waters off British Columbia’s sensitive northern coast.

Cullen, New Democrat national critic for Natural Resources and Energy, led several hours of debate on today’s Opposition Day motion.  Cullen is calling on the government to “immediately propose legislation to ban bulk oil tanker traffic in the Dixon Entrance, Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound.” (Please see attached Backgrounder for complete text of motion.)

Cullen introduced the motion in part to respond to the threat proposed by the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline. The bitterly controversial project would pipe raw bitumen from Alberta’s tar sands overland across BC to Kitimat, where the bitumen would be loaded onto supertankers for shipment to Asia.

“Banning tankers would protect the BC coast from Enbridge’s risky venture,” said Cullen. “It would also temper the unsustainable explosion of Canada’s tar sands sector and the climate-changing emissions that go with it.”

“We’ve had a tanker moratorium off the B.C. coast for close to 40 years now,” New Democrat Leader Jack Layton said in the House of Commons today.

“But Liberal and Conservative governments alike have told us they don’t feel bound to respect it. Well, the stakes are growing too high and the potential for disaster too great—we need to legislate the ban, immediately. We have even written the legislation for the government.”

A final vote on Cullen’s proposed supertanker ban is expected on Tuesday, Dec. 7.

Tomorrow, Cullen is launching on online campaign inviting concerned citizens to help save BC’s northern coast from dangerous supertanker traffic.  Check it out at www.nathancullen.ca.

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Following is the text of Cullen’s motion:

December 2, 2010 — Mr. Cullen (Skeena—Bulkley Valley) — That, in the opinion of the House, the government should immediately propose legislation to ban bulk oil tanker traffic in the Dixon Entrance, Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound as a way to protect the West Coast’s unique and diverse ocean ecosystem, to preserve the marine resources which sustain the community and regional economies of British Columbia, and to honour the extensive First Nations rights and title in the area.