New legislation proposed by the federal government will ban large oil tankers from stopping or unloading in Haida Gwaii or northern B.C. waters. (File photo/Black Press)

Oil tanker ban to be reviewed by committee

Indigenous groups for and against Bill C-48 travel to Ottawa to influence the Senate’s decision

Senators in Ottawa have voted to send the oil tanker ban to a committee for further examination.

The proposed law would ban tankers carrying more than 12,500 metric tonnes of crude or persistent oil as cargo from stopping or unloading at any point beween the northern tip of Vancouver Island to the Alaska border.

On Dec. 11, the Senate passed the second reading of Bill C-48, and it will now be sent to the Transport and Communications committee.

The delay in passing the bill is what Haida Hereditary Chief Gidansda (Guujaaw) is concerned about. “That’s the plan, to delay it until another government will come in and do away with it all together.” He travelled with a delegation of First Nations chiefs and political leaders to Ottawa in the first week of December to urge the Senate to pass the oil tanker ban.

“It’s clear they were getting a story that all the First Nations had changed their mind and don’t want a moratorium. There’s pretty heavy lobbying going on right now by oil,” he said.

READ MORE: Minister Garneau details tanker ban policy

Nunavut senator, Dennis Glen Patterson, spoke against the bill after meeting with several First Nations leaders in the past two weeks. He shared what he heard from the Nisga’a when they met and why they disagree with the bill.

“The Nisga’a will never support a project which will jeopardize our good,” he said. “The government has proceeded without any accommodation with the Nisga’a. The modern treaty opened the door to the development of our natural resources, they told us, yet Bill C-48 was introduced without any meaningful dialogue and despite pleas that Bill C-48 should not cover the Nisga’a treaty area.”

Patterson also mentioned the president of Eagle Spirit Energy Holdings Ltd., Lax Kw’alaams member, Calvin Helin, who was in Ottawa on Dec. 11 to speak out against the bill. The tanker ban would prevent his $16-billion pipeline project from moving forward.

Helin wants the ban to be struck down, or that an amendment is allowed for a transit corridor in Dixon Entrance. Eagle Spirit Pipeline plans to carry crude oil from Fort McMurray to a terminal in Grassy Point, near Prince Rupert. If the moratorium goes through, Plan B would be to set up a terminal in Hyder, Alaska.

The Senate heard comments from the opposition to the bill stating that the Eagle Spirit Pipeline is an opportunity to defeat poverty on reserves. With the decline in the fishing and forestry industry, they need work and a new industry to support their communities.

“There’s very few and far opportunties in northern B.C. and this is one of the biggest opportunities for a lot of First Nations to get out of poverty,” said Chief Dan George of Burns Lake Band.

Although the Eagle Spirit pipeline is not within their territory, the Burns Lake Band has been offered a small percentage of the benefits for supporting the project.

Calvin’s brother, John Helin, the mayor of Lax Kw’alaams, is currently involved in a civil claim in the Supreme Court of B.C. against the Attorney General of Canada claiming the tanker ban bill is infringing on their rights to control their traditional land. The civil claim is suspended until the bill has been passed through the Senate.

READ MORE: GoFundMe launched to fight oil-tanker moratorium

Consultation has been conducted with Indigenous people, industry and communities across Canada since Jan. 2016 when Minister of Transport Marc Garneau first travelled to Prince Rupert.

Garneau was mandated to formalize a moratorium on crude-oil tankers when he became a cabinet minister. His spokesperson, Delphine Denis, said the federal government has held approximately 75 engagement sessions with Indigenous groups, industry stakeholders and communities across Canada since Jan. 2016.

Last week, the minister met with the Coastal First Nations group in Ottawa.

“They expressed support for C-48, including hereditary chiefs of the Allied Tribes of Lax Kw’alaams, and the Chiefs and political Leaders of the Haida Nation, Metlakatla First Nation, Gitga’at First Nation, Gitxaala First Nation, the Heiltsuk Nation, Kitasoo-Xai’Xais, the Nuxalk Nation and Wuikinuxv Nation,” said Denis.

“C-48 formalizes an existing policy which has been in place for over 30 years now prohibiting oil tankers off the northern coast of B.C.”

The proposed oil tanker moratorium bill has been referred to the Standing Committee on Transport and Communications for consideration. The bill will then move to the report stage, and a third reading before being passed through the Senate.

The next federal election is Oct. 21, 2019.



shannon.lough@thenorthernview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

oil tanker ban

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

Just Posted

Port Alberni writer featured at Alberni Valley Words on Fire

Vicki Drybrough’s poetry and short stories have been published in anthologies and literary journals

Tour de Rock alumni ride through Port Alberni

Event was scaled down this year in response to COVID-19

Third brewery on the way for Port Alberni

Alberni Brewing Company hopes to open in early 2021

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

Port Alberni long-term care home gets new bath chair

Westhaven residents say thanks to WCGH Foundation for donation

QUIZ: Do you know what’s on TV?

Fall is normally the time when new television shows are released

Canadian ski resorts wrestle with pandemic-vs.-profit dilemma as COVID-19 persists

Few are actually restricting the total number of skiers they allow on the hill

Victoria-area RCMP locate high-risk sex offender thanks to help of taxi cab driver

Scott Jones wanted on a Canada-wide warrant, ‘a risk to women and girls,’ police say

A (virtual) walk around the world by 88-year-old B.C. man

George Doi says it’s simple: ‘I like walking’

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

End of CERB means uncertainty for some, new system for others

As of a week ago, the CERB had paid out $79.3 billion to 8.8 million people

Horgan, Wilkinson trade barbs over MSP premiums, health care at campaign stops

Horgan called a snap election for Oct. 24 earlier this week

Most Read