Private Member’s bill takes aim at North Coast oil tanker ban

MP Bachrach vows to fight attempt of repealling the moratoreum

Taylor Bachrach speaks during the Special committee Covid-19 pandemic in June 2020. The Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP is firmly opposed to a Conservative Private Member’s Bill to repeal the North Coast moratorium on Oil Tankers. (File photo)

Taylor Bachrach speaks during the Special committee Covid-19 pandemic in June 2020. The Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP is firmly opposed to a Conservative Private Member’s Bill to repeal the North Coast moratorium on Oil Tankers. (File photo)

An Alberta Conservative MP has introduced a private member’s bill to repeal restrictions on oil shipments from the north coast of British Columbia.

Bill C-229, “An act to repeal certain restrictions on shipping,” was tabled Oct. 28 by Edmonton-Centre MP James Cumming, taking direct aim at Bill C-48, the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act, passed last year. Cumming acknowledged the bill has little chance of succeeding, but said it was important to send a message on behalf of the Alberta oil industry, a key driver of the Canadian economy.

”[The moratorium] is an overt attack on Alberta’s resource sector,” Cumming said. “Some have suggested that my bill, Bill C-229, is a waste of a private member’s bill, but frankly, given the absolute sorry state of this country, it is anything but a waste. This bill would right a wrong and fix an incredibly discriminatory piece of legislation.”

Over concerns of severe environmental damage to B.C.’s coastline, a voluntary exclusion zone for oil tanker traffic has been in place along the north coast since the 1970s. Last year the Liberal government formalized the measure with the passing of Bill C-48, the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act, which banned the transport of more than 12,500 metric tonnes of oil between the northern tip of Vancouver Island to the Alaska border.

Bachrach said repealing the bill would place coastal livelihoods at risk, trample Indigenous right and threaten the integrity of the North Coast and Haida Gwaii, what he called one of Canada’s greatest natural treasures.

“Of course, on paper the oil industry continues to promise all manner of technology to respond to every situation and contingency, but … there is very little that can be done when the guy steering the boat falls asleep and runs it into the rocks,” Bachrach said, referring to a 190,000-litre diesel fuel spill near Bella Bella in 2016.

READ MORE: Senate to hold hearings in northwest B.C. on controversial oil tanker ban

“Indeed, it is striking that this bill comprises only a single clause, which repeals the oil tanker moratorium wholly and replaces it with, wait for it, absolutely nothing. It offers no alternative measures to protect the north coast. It does nothing to consider the views of the indigenous people and the communities in the area that is most affected.”

The moratorium ended plans for $7.9-billion Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline, running diluted bitumen 1,170 kilometres from the Alberta oil sands to a proposed shipping terminal in Kitimat.

A proposal by Eagle Spirit Energy for an Indigenous-owned pipeline along the same route was also stalled.

In the House of Commons Cumming devoted a considerable portion of his time to the importance of environmental protections, saying it’s a mistake to cripple energy companies investing heavily in green technology.

“Private sector innovation is what is going to lead us into the future and provide us with the technology we need to shift to global sustainability,” Cumming said.

“[But] by 2019, 100,000 jobs in this [energy] sector had already been lost because of Liberal policies. Capital investment in Canada’s oil and natural gas sector has dropped by over half since 2014. I cannot imagine what these statistics would mean in other industries, and what the reaction of the government would be.”

In October last year Calgary-based Melius Energy got around oil-tanker restrictions by using modified shipping containers to move bitumen by rail from Edmonton to the Port of Prince Rupert. The oil had been processed into a semi-solid form, to the consistency of butter, so it wouldn’t leak or mix with the natural environment if spilled.

The company said the demonstration was proof-of-concept that bitumen could be moved safely and efficiently through B.C., in adherence to Canada’s regulatory framework.

READ MORE: Prince Rupert final Canadian stop in first successful shipment of semi-solid bitumen, what are the impacts?

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
COVID-19 exposure at The Key, weather shelter announced in Fort St. James

Northern Health made the public service announcement Dec. 1

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared on Nov. 19. (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
52 positive COVID-19 cases now associated with LNG Canada site outbreak

Eight cases still active, 44 considered recovered

Pipe stringing work in Section 4. (Coastal GasLink photo/Lakes District News)
Pipe installation begins from south of Burns Lake to north of Vanderhoof

Coastal Gas Link’s November update indicates 528 additional workers

Vanderhoof Community Foundation logo.
Donate in your loved one’s name this Giving Tuesday: Vanderhoof Community Foundation

Today, Dec. 1 is celebrated as Giving Tuesday, a global movement for… Continue reading

Annerose Georgeson in the process of painting a mural at the Stuart Nechako Manor in July. While she was working on the mural, a nurse and a senior living at the Manor were enjoying the live painting. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
Vanderhoof artist completes mural at the Manor

A Vanderhoof artist has finished her mural at a local long-term care… Continue reading

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

The Walking Curriculum gets students outside and connecting with nature. (Amanda Peterson/Special to S.F. Examiner)
‘Walking Curriculum’ crafted by SFU professor surges in popularity

The outdoor curriculum encourages students to connect with the natural world

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

A sign is seen this past summer outside the Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake reminding visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
B.C. First Nation leaders await privacy commissioner decision on COVID-19 information

Release of life-saving data cannot wait, says coalition of First Nations

MLA Jennifer Whiteside is B.C.’s new minister of education. She is speaking out against Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld and asking him to resign. (Black Press)
New education minister calls on Chilliwack trustee to resign

Whiteside echoes former minister’s promise to look at options to remove Barry Neufeld

Peter Beckett. ~ File photo
Supreme Court of Canada to decide if it will hear appeal in 2010 wife murder trial

Peter Beckett has stood trial twice for murder in connection with the death of his wife, Laura Letts-Beckett

Tabor Home in Abbotsford. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
B.C.’s largest COVID-19 care-home outbreak records 19 deaths, 147 cases

Tabor Home in Abbotsford has been battling outbreak since Nov. 4

Ash and Lisa Van carry a freshly cut Christmas tree while wearing personal protective masks at a Christmas Tree Farm in Egbert, Ontario, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Cole Burston
‘Everyone wants a tree and they want it now’: Christmas tree sales on pace for record

Anticipated demand for Christmas trees has sparked a rush by some to purchase more trees wholesale

Most Read