Oil Tankers
January 25, 2011

As our government invests in healthcare, education and social services, it is important that there is economic activity to support them. The ‘Resource Extraction Sector’ is one of the main sources of new wealth for Canada.  Transportation links must be established to get our commodities to market and this is where roads, rail and pipelines are essential to our economic well-being.

On December 2, 2010, NDP MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley, Nathan Cullen, tabled a motion that would stop oil tanker traffic from pacific coast ports. This is in reaction to the proposed pipeline from Edmonton to Kitimat and the export of oil to Asian markets via oil tankers. Oil tanker traffic already occurs off the B.C. coast as oil is transported from Alaska to the continental USA.

New regulations were adopted after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1990, making double-hulled requirements for all new oil tankers. To date, there has never been an oil spill from a double-hulled tanker.   All single-hulled tankers will be phased out this year.

Of the 475,000 marine vessels that reach the coast of B.C. annually, only 1,500 vessels (.3%) are large oil tankers.

During the December 2nd debate, it was mentioned that British Columbians did not want the Edmonton to Kitimat pipeline, the super tanker port and were against the oil sands project In Alberta.  MP Cullen stated that the B.C. coast is ‘unique’ and very environmentally sensitive. Well, all ecosystems are ‘unique’ and protecting the environment is no less important in other parts of Canada or the world. 

Presently, 260,000 jobs are tied to the oil sands.  Cullen has spoken out against both the pipeline and the oil sands projects.  Our economy would benefit from jobs being created in the building of the pipeline and port facilities to and in Kitimat as well as the benefits of tax revenue going to the provinces of B.C. and Alberta.

This is not economic growth at any cost but rather having regulations and standards in place so that as private capital creates wealth for Canada, we can be assured it is done in an environmentally responsible way.  Development of our resources means jobs for families and services for all citizens. Consequently, I voted against this motion as tanker traffic is safe and governed by stringent international and Canadian regulations. 

Colin Mayes, MP
Okanagan-Shuswap