Here on the Raincoast, we are well aware that huge amounts of crude oil can enter the environment in other ways than deep-water drilling accidents. The Exxon Valdez tanker disaster happened just over two decades ago in Alaska. That accident dumped more than 10 million U.S. gallons of oil into Prince William Sound, fouled 1300 miles of coastline, damaged ecosystems, killed thousands of animals and caused over $300 million-U.S. of economic damage.
Because of the Exxon Valdez, but also because of common sense, British Columbians have long supported a ban on oil tanker traffic off our coast. We know that if you mix continuous tanker traffic along a thousand miles of coast with unpredictable weather, fallible humans, reefs, wind, tide and time, accidents will inevitably happen.
And in British Columbia we prefer not to invite another Exxon Valdez to our neigbbourhood.
In this regard British Columbians part company with Stephen Harper’s Conservatives. Stephen Harper—and your local Conservative candidate—is hot for dropping the ban on oil tanker traffic as soon as possible. The Conservatives seem to like everything about oil, including shipping huge amounts of it—fingers-crossed—along British Columbia’s spectacular coastline.
Careless as it is, this is not a plan that will benefit British Columbians in any conceivable way.
Right now Stephen Harper and his Conservatives are looking for a majority in Parliament, a majority Harper could use to push through any agenda item he pleased. Even if those agenda items don’t particularly please us here in British Columbia. Even if those agenda items represent an unacceptable risk to our environment and waterways.
However, to achieve his coveted majority, Harper needs to gain seats in this province. Which means that voters in British Columbia–almost unique for Canadian elections–have the power to stop him. And thereby to stop the intended introduction of tanker traffic along our coastline.
If you don’t like the idea of another Exxon Valdez running aground and fouling a thousand miles of the Inside Passage, a vote against Stephen Harper on May 2nd is a vote against that likelihood.
British Columbians should vote to say we don’t need oil slicks, oiled birds and oiled beaches here. We don’t need Stephen Harper and his oil tankers.
And we’re not prepared give the Conservatives their majority so that they can impose these things upon us whether we like them or not.