New Democrats Motion Calls on Government to Review Unconventional Oil Regulations

OTTAWA– Today, New Democrats are celebrating the unanimous passage of their Opposition Day motion on the risks of unconventional oil and gas exploration.

At the last minute, the Conservative government, which has been arguing that existing regulations are strong and do not need to be changed, voted with New Democrats and other Opposition parties to launch a government-wide review of safety regulations on the all development of risky oil, such as oil sands and deep sea drilling.

“Canadians are very concerned that something like the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico can happen here,” said New Democrat Environment Critic Linda Duncan (Edmonton-Strathcona). “I am delighted that the government has finally consented to lead this review process and fully engage concerned Canadians.”

The motion, tabled by Duncan, calls on the government to immediately conduct a thorough and transparent review of all relevant federal laws, regulations and policies regarding the development of unconventional sources of oil and gas, with full public participation, and to report to the House for appropriate action.

“We need to know how the government is going to live up to this motion,” said New Democrat Energy Critic Nathan Cullen (Skeena-Bulkley Valley). “While the Obama administration is moving quickly to review and shore up US safety regulations, our government has been completely flat-footed. We’ve already learned of serious gaps in our regulations – I hope this review will close them.”

New Democrat Leader Jack Layton welcomed the passing of the motion.

“We don’t accept the Harper Government’s position that the National Energy Board can do that job,” said Layton. “Harper must announce a credible review panel, timelines and a mandate on an urgent basis.”

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Text of the motion as passed:

May 26, 2010 — Ms. Duncan (Edmonton—Strathcona) — That this House notes the horror with which Canadians observe the ecological disaster unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico and their call for action to prevent such an event in Canada, and therefore calls on the government immediately to conduct a thorough review and revision of all relevant federal laws, regulations and policies regarding the development of unconventional sources of oil and gas, including oil sands, deepwater oil and gas recovery, and shale gas, through a transparent process and the broadest possible consultation with all interested stakeholders to ensure Canada has the strongest environmental and safety rules in the world, and to report to the House for appropriate action.