The Green Party of Canada urges the federal government to honour its constitutionally mandated duty to consult with local First Nations before moving any further with plans for offshore petroleum drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
“The federal government has a duty to conduct an extensive consultation with the Innu, Maliseet, and Mi’kmaq Nations before any exploration or drilling in this region – So far, they have failed to uphold that duty,” said Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and MP for Saanich–Gulf Islands. “Residents of coastal communities, and those involved in the fishing and tourism industry are also at risk and need to be part of any discussions before any legislation is tabled in the House of Commons.”
At an historic meeting last summer, chiefs representing the Innu, Maliseet, and Mi’kmaq Nations committed to defending Aboriginal and Treaty Rights and Title throughout the Gulf region with a united voice. Citing a significant lack of risk assessment and inadequate disaster preparedness, the First Nations are calling for a 12-year moratorium on oil and gas drilling in the Gulf Region.
“Just a few days ago, a massive, 240-metre-long supertanker travelling to collect oilsands bitumen from a port in the St. Lawrence River was stopped because of a problem with the emergency fire equipment on board,” added Green Deputy Leader Bruce Hyer, MP for Thunder Bay–Superior North. “We cannot afford to recklessly approve offshore drilling, when clearly there is no proven way to safeguard the waters and ecosystems of the St. Lawrence.”
“Close to five million barrels of oil leaked into the Gulf of Mexico during the Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010 – Imagine how devastating a spill of that size would be to this region,” concluded May. “Offshore drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence is an environmental disaster in the making.”
“What’s even more puzzling is why Premier Philippe Couillard did not attend the announcement with Stephen Harper. According to a CTV news article released last week, there may not even be a deal to table legislation to move ahead with drilling in the Gulf of St Lawrence.”
“My question to Premier Couillard is simple – has the Quebec Government even agreed to the deal, or did Stephen Harper jump the gun?”