Vancouver fuel spill shows Harper’s response system far from “world class”, says Cullen

OTTAWA – New Democrat Finance Critic and MP for Skeena—Bulkley Valley Nathan Cullen gave an impassioned speech today in the House of Commons, highlighting the recent fuel spill in English Bay as more evidence the Conservative government has a long way to go to protect BC’s coastal waters and communities.

Speaking during debate in the House on a New Democrat motion to reopen the Kitsilano Coast Guard station, Cullen said claims by the Conservative government about Canada having a “world class” response system have proven to be a “world class lie”. The Conservative government closed the Kitsilano Coast Guard station in February of 2013. Yet in recent days, the former commander of the station noted it would have taken him six minutes to have response teams on-site of the Marathassa fuel spill in English Bay on April 8th had the station not been shut down. Instead, it took nearly twelve hours for Coast Guard response crews to lay a containment boom around the leaking ship.

The closure of the station was part of a slew of cuts under Stephen Harper’s devastating austerity budgets. And the most recent round of cuts to the Coast Guard saw the agency slash $20 million and 300 positions. “Tomorrow these guys are going to present this balanced budget, and people are going to say ‘how did you get there?’ This is how they chose to get there: by cutting the basic protections that Canadians need.”

Cullen also noted that this is the best the government’s current system can do with a minor spill in an urban port in placid waters and good weather. It should not be a shock that that British Columbians aren’t sold on the Conservative plans for exporting millions of barrels of raw bitumen daily out of Vancouver and Kitimat.

The House of Commons will be voting on the motion, presented New Democrat West Coast Fisheries Critic Fin Donnelly, tonight. The motion calls on the government to reopen the Kitsilano Coast Guard station and other recently closed stations in Vancouver, Ucluelet and Comox.


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** A video clip of Cullen’s speech can be viewed here: