Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen has been a proponent for legislating a crude oil tanker ban on the North Coast of B.C. since he tabled a private members bill in 2014.
Before Parliamentary business in Ottawa closed for the holidays Black Press asked Cullen his thoughts on Bill C-48.
ARE YOU CONCERNED THE OIL TANKER BAN WON’T BE LEGISLATED BEFORE THE NEXT ELECTION?
CULLEN: I just talked to the transport minister, who’s the one shepherding this thing through and I think there was a, from my opinion, a lack of urgency from the Liberals. This thing has gone into the Senate and the Senate can be a very sleepy place sometimes. If you compare how they’ve been dealing with this bill versus how they slammed through the Canada Post back-to-work legislation, you can tell the difference when a government is in a hurry and when they seem to care a little bit less.
The bill is now getting into committee, I think the Senate is confirmed to start that in the new year.
Sometimes committees are a few days in length, sometimes a little bit longer but they don’t typically go on forever.
As you can see by the vote it was pretty overwhelming, at least getting it to committee, so I suspect that vote will look very similar once it’s in its final reading.
The Liberals have promised me and everybody else involved that this is a priority for them and they want to see this thing through. That remains mine, and I think Canadians expectations. If they don’t I think it will be a very heavy price to pay, certainly with British Columbians who voted for them based on promises like this one.
ONE OF THE BIGGEST ARGUMENTS FROM THE OPPOSITION (CALVIN HELIN) IS THAT THEY WEREN’T PROPERLY CONSULTED. DO YOU AGREE WITH THAT?
CULLEN: I asked the federal minister and his government about that a year ago, and he confirmed that they had done extensive consultations. I asked them specifically about Lax Kw’alaams and other coastal communities and they felt very confident about their level of consultation. Sometimes those things get proven out in court, and that’s of course what Lax Kw’alaams has talked about doing and of course that’s where a judge gets to sit down and weigh out, as they have, on other, well usually it’s on projects that have been proposed not on a bill to set up something like a moratorium. They will have to look at what the legal test to that is and I don’t know if it’s the same standard.
DO YOU SUPPORT THE EAGLE SPIRIT PIPELINE AND SHIPPING CRUDE OIL?
CULLEN: It’s certainly a project that’s trying to improve the benefits and decrease some of the risk, but the opposition amongst other Indigenous communities, because as you know we had the coastal leaders here last week and it was the most impressive and, well, it was the strongest gathering of coastal Indigenous leadership that I’ve ever seen in one place at one time, so that still matters and I appreciate the effort of anybody who is trying do a value added project. This one seems to be still running through quite a significant amount of opposition.