Harper, BC Tory MPs have oil on their hands from English Bay spill

Harper, BC Tory MPs have oil on their hands from English Bay spill

Harper, BC Tory MPs have oil on their hands from English Bay spill
A cleanup crew works on Third Beach following the recent English Bay oil spill

I say three cheers for Premier Christy Clark and Mayor Gregor Robertson of Vancouver.

The verbal assault by the Premier on the federal government was more than justified by recent events and just happens to be a move that is always popular amongst many British Columbians, frankly including me, whenever Ottawa behaves like Ottawa – which is most of the time.

The recent oil spill in English Bay is, as has been said by so many, a wake up call. In fact, however, there are many people like Dr. Eoin Finn, who didn’t need that wake-up call and have said for a long time that sooner or later an accident like this was going to happen. As sure as the penny will turn up heads sometime, there will be next one and it could be infinitely worse.

 Federal cuts mean increased risk to coast

Before we get to the future let’s just take a look at the present. The prime minister of the country immediately defends his cuts in funding and acts as if this spill really is of very little consequence. His gauleiter in BC, James Moore, a lump of arrogance in a three-piece suit, actually opined that the response to this spill was just peachy.

The Member of Parliament most concerned about the future of oil spills is the one for my constituency, John Weston since his constituency includes Howe Sound and Squamish. It is through Howe Sound that the powers that be, including the two senior governments and the entire fossil fuel “establishment”, want to run LNG tankers to English Bay for refuelling!

LNG tankers are risky business

Let me pause here to say that opposition to these tankers is not based on some dreams concocted by airy fairy environmentalists, munching nuts and chewing raisins. Thanks to the work of Dr. Finn and Cmdr. Roger Sweeny (RCN Ret.), we know that even the most conservative expert evidence, that of Dr Michael Hightower of New Mexico, and several other experts, is such that Howe Sound is utterly unsuitable for LNG tanker traffic. In fact, the boast of the tanker industry of a safe record with LNG, while fundamentally true, overlooks the fact that this is because tankers don’t go into dangerous places like Howe Sound.

MP Weston wrong to defend tankers, LNG

Getting back to Mr. Weston, this issue should demonstrate, as if a demonstration were necessary, that the political system in this country simply doesn’t work. Here we have the Member of Parliament for an area which is largely up in arms at the thought of an LNG plant in Squamish, not only supporting that plant at every turn – berating at the West Vancouver Council for being opposed – but now struck dumb by an oil spill which demonstrates the huge dangers posed by this LNG plant he so loyally and stubbornly supports.

Surely to God this question must be raised by all reasonable people, no matter how they feel about LNG plants or tankers:

[quote]Why hasn’t John Weston been asking questions in the House about the cleanup capability in BC long before now?

Why isn’t he raising hell about this oil spill?[/quote]

Everyone knows that clean-up capability been under-funded by his government yet not a peep out of the man sent to Ottawa to represent our concerns.

Now that we have this huge wake up call, Mr. Weston is totally unconcerned for one very plain reason – he must be loyal to the government and its policies, however damaging they may be to his constituency. How else can he get that coveted cabinet post?

Surprisingly, Clark deserves some credit

I am certainly no fan of the premier or her government but am compelled to say that she has shown, in the clutch, the kind of leadership British Columbians expect when, as usual, Ottawa indifference is raising havoc in this faraway nuisance it couldn’t care less about.

Anyone who wishes to criticize the premier for her immediate and strong reaction should ask themselves this: If the premier doesn’t stand up for the people of British Columbia who will?

It sure as hell won’t be the likes of the Honourable James Moore or government backbencher John Weston.


About Rafe Mair

Rafe Mair, LL.B, LL.D (Hon) a B.C. MLA 1975 to 1981, was Minister of Environment from late 1978 through 1979. In 1981 he left politics for Talk Radio becoming recognized as one of B.C.'s pre-eminent journalists. An avid fly fisherman, he took a special interest in Atlantic salmon farms and private power projects as environmental calamities and became a powerful voice in opposition to them. Rafe is the co-founder of The Common Sense Canadian and writes a regular blog at rafeonline.com.

19 thoughts on “Harper, BC Tory MPs have oil on their hands from English Bay spill

  1. It’s nice know that Kinder Morgan owns 50.9% of the clean-up company that the Feds/Coast guard chose to hire to clean-up the mess. As Kinder Morgan says, “Oil spills can be good for business”. THEIRS!! I cannot agree with you that Christy and Gregor should be congratulated. It would have been far better if they had put up more of a fight over the closing of the coast guard station at Kitsilano or if they had criticized federal environmental cutbacks. It’s a no-brainer to have some photo-ops on the evening news criticizing the feds. Saving the Westcoast will take a lot more that words.

  2. I agree with Trinity re Clark. I took a dangerous tack in praising her to underscore just how arrogant and useless Moore is and how utterly ineffective and cowardly Weston is. I unsay not a word I’ve said about Clark and her poodle Coleman who are even worse than wrong, they’re fools.

    The issue in Howe Sound is tankers and I hope you’ve read here what Eoin Finn and Commander Sweeny have discovered and reported. More coming.

  3. Just a mention of the picture above, these are the experts we keep hearing about. Equipped with rags and buckets but no breathing apparatus or protection. Volunteers told to stay away and let the experts do their highly skilled procedures. Would be interesting to find out what strenuous training programs they undertook.

    1. Sadly, most of the training for clean up crews these days is…….how to talk to the media.
      Or, When NOT to talk to the media.

  4. While musing about revenues municipalities garner from traffic and parking violations(the city of Toronto for example reaps in excess of $60 million annually from traffic and parking fines)), I wonder if a Coast Guard system run by the city of Vancouver would pay handsomely for a ‘world class’ response to such spills if the transgressors were held appropriately to account for their violations.

    Apparently illegal and improper discharges are almost a daily experience in the harbour and likely to increase as traffic increases.

    I suspect the payout from the ship owners to the private company in this current clean up pretense will be in the millions of dollars, more than enough to maintain a ‘world class’ response team in the harbour.

    1. “Apparently illegal and improper discharges are almost a daily experience in the harbour and likely to increase as traffic increases.”

      Bilge flushing is a worldwide problem in shipping and I suspect that is what this was; an intentional act as it usually is.

  5. Recent actions and inactions by the current harper/shea rendition of the DFO, ie; the sneaky opening of the herring roe fishery against the advice of their own scientists and lower level personnel and this recent ‘full uniformed’ denial of their abject failure in responding to the oil spill in Vancouver harbour, makes me wonder if the harperian lack of ethics and integrity has so badly infected this once renowned and respected cog in the wheel of our oceans protections, that it needs a larger public inspection of their activities and get them more responsive to the people and stop them pandering to and for the pathetic excuses for humanity that we currently have for politicians.

  6. Vancouver was lucky this time, because the spill was small. With the next spill, Vancouver might not be so lucky. Due the high volume of shipping going through Vancouver Harbour, the closing of the Kitilano Coast Guard base by the Harpercons was stupid.

    1. There is something that I have thought about since this needless occurrence happened. It is an issue that has not been mentioned or addressed in any way by the media or anyone else.

      I am thinking about the Sandy Cove residences along the 3900 blk of Marine since the oil arrived at that beachfront. What was the drop in the value of the homes I wonder.

      5 dollars from every resident in West Vancouver could easily fund the launch of a multiple claim class action against the feds for damages. And WV is affluent enough to make that happen…..

      Then I am thinking about a major spill around here. Real estate values will plummet everywhere that oils turns up. By the time you sell your place for a dime it won’t be worth a nickle.

      1. You might be onto something Dan, regarding property values for those fine folks adjacent to Sandy Cove.They always considered that public beach theirs. In the days of yore, Vancouver Sun cartoonist Norris would have been all over this mess and he would have made the likes of Moore and Weston squirm..

  7. If that’s Third Beach in the pic then it’s backwards, the West End would be to the left, not the right. Come to think of it, you can’t see English Bay Beach from Third Beach…. if this isn’t backwards then it’s down by the abutments of the Burrard Bridge on the south side of the opening of False Creek …..

    1. It’s not backwards, Skookum1. That’s West Van/Ambleside you see int he background over the water. This was taken right around Siwash Rock, which was one of the worst-hit areas.

  8. Thank you for weighing in on this; I always appreciate hearing your point of view.

    I must disagree with your assessment of Christy’s response though. You can’t ride two horses and she is trying to with her push for LNG/oil and supporting those of us who *love* our BC … who are furious about the grossly inappropriate response to this spill.

  9. To my knowledge ( I don’t read newspapers or watch television. I do however listen to the radio) no-one has explained the source of the oil. Was it the ship, was it accidental, was it a bilge water discharge? No-one has explained how the initial quantity (700 gallons) was determined, nor how it was determined that “80% had been cleaned up”. No-one has explained how/why the original estimate was increased, or whether that changes the amount cleaned up. No-one has attempted to describe the mess it he sailboater had not called 911 and the ship had just weighed anchor and sailed into oblivion.
    As for Chrispey, has no-one explained that the Mount Polley spill still has not been addressed? Perhaps the Coast Guard is responsible for that mess too?

    1. John’s Aghast, it seems from both Coastguard and Transport Canada spokes thingies that there was a valve problem that let fuel tank oil somehow end up in the keel area. They won’t say how it got from the keel into the water but common sense suggests it was pumped out by bilge pumps. why so secretive I don’t know but again we are looked at as idiots who can’t understand how stuff works.
      The quantity of oil they say was based on the overhead flights that equipment could determine size times depth of oil???
      Overall the conversation was about what an amazing job they all did even though it left all without answers.
      Hope I helped a little.

      1. Thanks Don, Now you and I know. But I heard nothing on ‘the news’. Still waiting to hear how the Mount Polley cleanup is progressing.
        I suspect by now the additional English Bay spill has been ‘cleaned down’, sunk to the bottom for the Dungeness crabs to feed on.

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