Cullen frustrated with tanker ban progress

Nathan Cullen says the new Liberal government isn’t doing enough to formalize its intentions on the oil-taker ban

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen says the new Liberal government isn’t doing enough to formalize its intentions on the oil-taker ban and pipeline developments to the North Coast.

In a regularly scheduled press conference with regional media, Cullen criticized Transportation Minister Marc Garneau for leaving out certain groups during a consultation tour to the region earlier this month.

“I don’t know which direction they’re actually moving in,” he said. “One thing that’s a slight concern is that Mr. Garneau came into town [Prince Rupert] and met with some local First Nations, which is important and correct, but not any of the local environment groups, or some of the other people who have been working around this issue for many years.”

He added the Liberals are leaving their options open for everything from a complete ban on oil tankers, to something “mild and unacceptable.”

“We drafted that legislation, they don’t have to do any work on it … So which way are they going to break?”

Garneau made a stop in Prince Rupert Jan. 14 as part of a nation-wide tour to  meet with stakeholders on the issue, saying it was important the voices of North Coast British Columbians be heard.

In relation to what Cullen sees as slow-moving legislation, he also expressed frustration with recent demands from China that Canada provide access to its oil reserves via pipelines to the west coast. China wants the Harper government’s investment restrictions in the oil and gas sector removed, if the country is to sign a historic free-trade agreement with Canada, the first with any North American country.

“In order for Mr. Trudeau to get his much desired trade deal with China, China wants to add an oil bitumen pipeline to the west coast, and another is to allow Chinese companies to buy up whatever Canadian companies they want,” he said.

“Both of those things run directly against what Mr. Trudeau campaigned on and directly against the interests of Canadians. I guess this is their moment of realpolitik, will the Liberals come down with what they promised or will they cave to the interests of other groups and other countries?”