Federal government not functional: Burton

  • Nov. 20, 2002 12:00 p.m.

The federal government is in disarray and the Prime Minister is scrambling to keep control, says Skeena MP Andy Burton.
Mr. Burton, who was here on the islands for the Remembrance Day long weekend, described recent events in Ottawa as “fun and games” for the Alliance Party.
The fun reached its peak last Tuesday (Nov. 5) when a third of the Liberals voted for an Alliance motion about electing committee chairs by secret ballot. The motion passed.
“It was fairly significant in terms of showing the government really is in disarray,” Mr. Burton said. “And it’s not good for Canada. We don’t really have a functional government right now.”
The next task for the Alliance Party is demonstrating its leadership and governing abilities, the MP said.
“We have to prove to Canadians that we’re capable of forming a government,” he said. “We’ve got an elected dictatorship right now, and we don’t like that.”
Mr. Burton said he and other Alliance Party members remain opposed to the Liberals’ plan to sign the Kyoto agreement by the end of the year.
Instead of the Kyoto agreement, which he said will transfer Canadian money to countries like China, Russia and India, Mr. Burton called for a “made in Canada” solution to attack greenhouse gas emissions.
The subject he hears most about from islanders, however, is the possibility of the federal government lifting its moratorium on oil and gas exploration in west coast waters.
Opinion from islanders is split about 50-50, he said, adding that he himself is in favour of lifting the moratorium.
Right now, Ottawa is waiting to see whether the provincial government lifts its moratorium. If that happens, Mr. Burton said he’d be lobbying hard for the federal government to follow suit. Right now the governing Liberals are divided on the issue, he said, with Environment Minister David Anderson opposed, and Herb Dhaliwal, the senior Liberal MP from British Columbia, in favour.
“It’s been done all over the world, how much more study do we need?” Mr. Burton asked. “Let’s lift the moratorium on exploration then we can get the oil and gas companies to just determine what’s out there so they can make decisions to proceed or not proceed based on information. We don’t have that information right now.”
Mr. Burton said he was inspired by a trip he made this summer to Aberdeen, a city on the east coast of Scotland. Here, in what was once one of the poorest areas of Britain, the economy is flourishing thanks to an oil and gas industry which has operated in the North Sea for the past 30 years.
“It’s phenomenal,” he said. “There’s 200 rigs offshore, they’ve been operating for over 30 years with virtually no problems.”
Mr. Burton said Prince Rupert has the potential to become the Aberdeen of the west coast, the hub where supplies and services are based.
“As far as the Queen Charlotte Islands are concerned there’s opportunity here,” he said. “Everybody’s got to get a piece of the action.”
Mr. Burton returned to Terrace on Monday, and returned to Ottawa last weekend. He said he enjoys travelling to the Charlottes and would be happy to come back soon: “I’m always looking for an invite.”