MP Report: Defending our oceans

Murray Rankin serves as Member of Parliament for Victoria

Spanning three oceans, Canada’s coastline is the longest in the world. Sadly, our oceans are increasingly threatened by rising temperatures, acidification and pollution. The impacts on humans, wildlife and the environment could be disastrous.

The University of Victoria’s Ocean Networks Canada monitors the country’s coasts to gather real-time data for scientific research. This research helps communities, governments and industries make informed, evidence-based decisions to promote better ocean management, disaster mitigation and environmental protection.

While we know that human activity has already caused significant changes in our oceans, important questions remain unanswered. How will marine ecosystems respond to increasing ocean acidification? How does the depletion of oxygen in coastal waters affect ecosystem services? What are the long-term effects of marine plastic pollution? These are of the questions Canadians need to address. Thankfully, organizations like ONC are working to answer them.

One concern right here at home is plastic pollution. A recent report by UVic’s Environmental Law Centre revealed that there are over 3,000 particles of plastics per cubic metre of seawater in the Strait of Georgia. It’s estimated that 90 percent of seabirds have plastic in their stomachs. Research like this has a big impact. In 2015, one of my NDP colleagues, Brian Masse, introduced a motion to ban harmful plastic microbeads in consumer products. I’m pleased to say that after years of effort that ban will go into effect on July 1 this year.

Plastic microbeads are just one of many pollutants that find their way into our oceans, but they’re a good example of how scientific research and evidence-based decision making can yield progress.

Unfortunately, a larger threat is looming. Despite the risks and against public opposition, the Prime Minister is still championing the Kinder MorganTrans Mountain oil pipeline and tanker project as being in the “national interest.” I fail to see how it can be in the national interest to retain the Harper government’s emissions targets, refuse to adequately consider the project’s upstream and downstream impacts, and dismiss the environmental and economic disaster that our coast would suffer in the wake of a major spill from a bitumen tanker.

These concerns aren’t speculative. We need only look at the record of Kinder Morgan’s existing pipeline. 82 spills reported in the last 57 years; averaging more than one each year. A bigger pipeline and more tankers crisscrossing our narrow, coastal waterways can only increase the chance of a major spill.

Like many Canadians, I expected more from Mr. Trudeau. I took him at his word when he said on August 20, 2015 in Esquimalt that the approval process would be “redone”. But it wasn’t.

My question to the Liberals is this: since when is breaking election promises, accepting unscientific assessments and inadequate consultation with First Nations, threatening endangered orcas, risking food security, and playing Russian roulette with BC’s coastal environment and economy in the national interest?

A couple of weeks ago, hundreds of fellow Victorians gathered around my community office on Fort Street to voice their rejection of the Kinder Morgan pipeline. I was given a symbolic gift of water from the Pacific Ocean. In return, I presented one of the organizers, Charlene Simon, with a Canadian flag to symbolize that taking steps to protect our precious coastline and the local economies that depend on it is exactly what’s in the national interest.

People in Victoria have told me that we cannot allow the Liberal government in Ottawa to gamble with BC’s coastline and economy. Those fighting to protect the west coast deserve to be recognized as proud Canadians for their efforts.

Whether you’re a surfer or a scientist, the voices of those who live, work and play on our oceans need to be heard in Ottawa now more than ever.

Murray Rankin serves as Member of Parliament for Victoria.

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

Just Posted

View Royal fire chief calls for realistic solutions to ‘mess’ at Thetis Lake

Emergency crews harassed while extinguishing brush fire, rescuing drunk 15-year-old during long weekend calls

Greater Victoria woman goes on gratitude mission to thank first responders

Jen Klein fainted while driving and crashed on Pat Bay Highway in 2019

Non-venomous ball python missing in Vic West

Snake was reported missing to Victoria police Tuesday morning

Multiple Victoria officers injured during violent incidents, including mental health calls over long weekend

Police deploy pepper spray, conducted energy weapon while arresting suspect

B.C. records 146 new COVID-19 cases through long weekend

More that 28 people tested positive for the virus each day since Friday

Canucks tame Minnesota Wild 4-3 to even NHL qualifying series

J.T. Miller leads Vancouver with goal and an assist

COVID-19 vaccine efforts provide hope but no silver bullet to stop pandemic: Tam

There are more than two dozen vaccines for COVID-19 in clinical trials around the world

Two people die in propane heated outdoor shower near Princeton

Couple was attending a long weekend gathering

Study shines light on what makes LGBTQ+ youth feel safe in a community

The study goes beyond looking at school or family supports

Alberta to require masks at schools this fall, but still no mandate in B.C.

B.C. students are also set to return to classrooms in September

B.C. to allow customers to buy cannabis online for in-store pickup at private shops

Age verification will still be required inside the store

30% of British Columbians would ‘wait and see’ before taking COVID vaccine: poll

Some are concerned about side effects, while others don’t think the virus is a big deal

Most Read