NDP turns up heat on federal government to reverse Coast Guard cuts
New Democrat MPs and candidates have commenced a campaign to reverse the decision by Prime Minister Stephen Harper government’s cuts to BC Coast Guard services.
In a party release, NDP Fisheries and Oceans deputy critic Fin Donnelly (New Westminster—Coquitlam) calls on the Harper government to re-open the Kitsilano Coast Guard base in Vancouver after an April 8 oil spill from the Marathassa, a grain-carrying cargo ship anchored in Burrard Inlet, leaked approximately 3,000 litres of toxic bunker fuel into local waters
“An NDP government will immediately re-open the Kitsilano Coast Guard base, re-open the Marine Communications and Traffic Service Centre in Ucluelet, and stop closures of these centres in Vancouver and Comox,” said NDP Fisheries and Oceans deputy critic Fin Donnelly (New Westminster—Coquitlam) in a media statement.
“But these steps to protect our coast are too important to wait until the next election,” Donnelly said, at the site of the former Kitsilano Coast Guard base.
“That’s why we’re urging Prime Minister Harper to listen to the public and act now. Last week’s oil spill in Vancouver Harbour illustrated just how much is at risk.”
BC’s 12 NDP MPs have written a joint letter to Harper, asking him to take immediate action to reverse cuts to Coast Guard services.
The New Democrats have also launched a petition campaign.
Donnelly also urged BC’s Conservative MPs to also speak out.
“Instead of denying there’s a problem, I hope they will stand with British Columbians to demand greater marine safety,” he said.
NDP candidate Constance Barnes (Vancouver Centre) said it’s time for the Conservatives to listen to British Columbians on this issue.
“When I sat on the Vancouver Parks Board, we fought hard on this issue, but the Conservatives would not respond. I hope this incident will finally get their attention.”
North Vancouver NDP candidate Carleen Thomas said she is pressing the Conservatives for immediate action because the coastline is too crucial to the ecosystem, economy and culture.
“We have a duty to protect the marine environment and communities that depend on it,” said Thomas, who works for the Tsleil-Waututh Nation’s Sacred Trust Initiative.
“I am proud that the NDP has been at the forefront of fighting the Kitsilano Coast Guard closure since it was announced in 2012.”
* NDP’s on-line petition can be found at: www.ndp.ca/bc-coast-guard