Harper’s cuts contribute to unacceptable spill response, says Green Party

OTTAWA – The spill of bunker fuel or some other as yet unidentified heavy oil in English Bay in Vancouver was likely worse due to a series of cuts made by the Harper Conservatives, says Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and Member of Parliament for Saanich – Gulf Islands.

“In the last few years, over a chorus of outrage and objections by British Columbians, Stephen Harper closed the Kitsilano Coast Guard station, the Vancouver Environment Canada station of Environmental Emergencies and the Marine Mammal Contaminants Programme within DFO,” noted Elizabeth May.

The Environmental Emergencies Programme in Environment Canada used to have regional offices in Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, Montreal, Dartmouth, N.S. and St. John’s. Since 2012, they have been replaced with a 1-800 number that rings in Gatineau, Que. and Montreal.

“No wonder spill response time was slow and communications with the City of Vancouver unacceptably slow. The key responders have been shut down,” said Claire Martin, Green candidate in North Vancouver, former national meteorologis, and former Environment Canada scientist.

“The closure of the Marine Contaminants Programme was a loss to science,” said Dr. Lynne Quarmby, the Green Party’s Science Policy Critic and candidate for Burnaby-North Seymour. “When 80 scientists who studied impacts of toxic substances on marine mammals were let go, we knew it was devastating. Now, its former head, Dr. Peter Ross is stretching his resources at his new job with the Vancouver Aquarium, trying to be ready for wildlife injured by the spill.”

The Green Party is also shining a light on the oil spill company, Western Canadian Marine Response Corp (WCMRC).

“Kinder Morgan owns more than 50% of the company called in to clean up the spill, Western Canadian Marine Response Corp,” said Ken Melamed, the Green Party’s Finance Critic and candidate for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea-to-Sky Country. “We need to know if the out-sourcing and privatization of spill response contributed to the unacceptable delays and if it is in fact cost effective for taxpayers?”