Cullen honours Heiltsuk, calls for federal action to protect BC coast

OTTAWA – Nathan Cullen, MP for Skeena—Bulkley Valley, rose in the House of Commons to pay tribute to the brave responders to a diesel spill on the Central Coast, and call for urgently needed federal action to protect BC’s coast from oil tankers:

Madam Speaker, last Thursday a tanker barge ran aground and sank near Bella Bella on B.C.'s central coast, spilling tens of thousands of litres of toxic diesel into critical fishing areas of the Heiltsuk nation.

I rise to pay tribute to the courageous Heiltsuk who have been out on the water day and night since this tragic spill to protect their homes. Local councillor Jess Housty said, “We know there are people who’ve had headaches, irritation in their noses and lungs since day one. They’re not reporting them because they don’t want to be told they can’t go out and help anymore. They can’t imagine being anywhere else.”

The federal government did not arrive on the scene for almost 24 hours after the spill and since then a second spill response vessel has also run aground and now has sunk and diesel continues to leak causing more devastation.

This is not a world-class spill response. This is a betrayal and a dereliction of duty.

The Prime Minister made a sacred promise to first nations in British Columbia and the people in the my riding that he would protect our coast yet when he was asked point-blank earlier this week whether he would stay true to his word, he deflected and suggested that opening a coast guard station 600 kilometres away was good enough.

We will protect what must be protected.

Watch Cullen's statement here: