Canadian fisheries waters means all waters in the fishing zones of Canada, all waters in the territorial sea of Canada and all internal waters of Canada; (eaux de pêche canadiennes)
Transport Canada is responsible under the Canada Shipping Act to ensure safe and environmentally responsible commercial marine operations, and the Canada Marine Act, to oversee Canada’s ports. The Port of Vancouver is Canada’s busiest, handling over 70 million tonnes of cargo annually, and the Port of Prince Rupert offers North America’s shortest and most efficient land-sea route to Asian markets.
The Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) is a special operating agency of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. It owns and operates the federal government’s civilian fleet and provides key maritime services to Canadians. CCG’s responsibilities include: maritime safety; protection of marine and freshwater environments; facilitation of maritime commerce and sustainable development; and support of marine scientific excellence.
The CCG’s Environmental Response (ER) program’s mission is to ensure an appropriate level of preparedness and response capability for all ship-source and mystery source pollution incidents in waters under Canadian jurisdiction. To that end, CCG implements a consistent approach for responding to marine pollution incidents in all regions of Canada. ER’s specific mission objectives are to:
- Minimize the impact of marine pollution incidents on public safety;
- Minimize the environmental impact of marine pollution incidents; and,
- Minimize the economic impact of marine pollution incidents.
Each of the three CCG regions applies these mission objectives in their day-to-day operations. CCG ER headquarters provides the necessary policies, directives, guidelines, and systems to support the nationally consistent application of these objectives in all CCG regions in Canada.
This is getting very depressing. Who wants to see parts of Canada pitted against each other? Of what possible value is that? What is that saying to the world?
And who in their right mind thinks an oil spill is acceptable to any Canadian?
Nothing is zero-risk around water. Contamination can occur. Tugboats sink. Ferries sink. Raw sewage gets pumped out. Litter accumulates. All of those things are the prices we pay for the imperfections of human and commercial activity on waterways.
It’s not just oceans. In the heart of the Canadian prairies, for example, any industrial activity that even appears to disturb a natural waterway requires federal approval. Do you know how burdensome that is for things like seasonal waterways that are dry much of the year, where the simplest industrial activities can be derailed for months while federal waterways approval is awaited and there isn’t a drop of water in sight? But it’s a price we pay to ensure Canadian waterways are maintained to the highest standards possible.
Like too many heated debates, this has become “us” vs. “them.” The tension has enforced structure: one side cares about economics, the other side cares about the coastline and the environment. Pick your side.
Think about how preposterous and childish that binary menu is. Think of all the people you know. How many exist only in one of those camps?
British Columbia is synonymous with a lot of things: vast forests, pristine mountain ranges, endless wilderness and charming small towns, great cities, great wineries, and 29,000 kilometres of beautiful coastline. It is a special place in Canada.
BC is also acutely aware of the damage an oil spill would cause to their industries and lifestyle. Extreme concern for the marine environment is understandable. For those that are feeling extreme concern, there are two options: join the “you only care about economics” club and go to war, or…use it to your advantage.
BC is also now in a unique position not presently afforded to any other Canadian marine jurisdiction. The province has a multinational company by the nose, has a provincial neighbour that acutely needs cooperation, and a federal government that is sweating more than the lido deck on a cruise ship. It is hard to imagine a better bargaining position than BC currently enjoys and, more critically, has leverage to enhance protections that are not its responsibility anyway.
The province’s link to the ocean is hard to underestimate. The risks of this relationship are also obvious too, as Mr. Horgan wrote about recently when documenting his experience observing a sunken tugboat spewing diesel into coastal waters. Given the level of activity on the Pacific coast, those risks are ever present no matter what Kinder Morgan does.
So why not use the opportunity to help build world class spill response programs to cover not only Kinder Morgan’s facilities but the entire 29,000-kilometer coast? Few jurisdictions have ever had such a wealth of resources so readily willing to write a cheque to do just that. Yes, marine safety is federal, but if BC adopts a flexible bargaining approach, it should not doubt for a second that massive cheques will appear from everywhere, and the Pacific coast will be safer than ever.
The alternative is the current path of interprovincial warfare, where there will be many casualties and the waters will be no safer.
Mr. Horgan, your desire to safeguard such an important part of BC’s character is understandable. You also represent a vital component of the Canadian confederation, which is governed by Canadian maritime regulations. You have in your hands the possibility of maximizing both of these relationships and having someone write the cheque for it. May you choose wisely.