Cullen pushes bill to ban crude tanker traffic; says country needs energy debate

MP Nathan Cullen has introduced his bill that would amend the Canada Shipping Act.

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen has tabled his private members bill which would, among other things, seek to ban crude oil tankers on the North Coast of B.C.

Cullen spoke to the bill in the past weeks but as of September 23 the details were formally presented meaning he could speak to it in greater detail.

Cullen said the bill has been specifically crafted so as not to impact other marine traffic, for instance diesel shipments to remote communities, or on the proposed shipments of liquefied natural gas from North Coast ports such as Kitimat.

Other parts of the bill would seek to give greater weight by regulatory overseers to projects that add value to products — for instance oil refineries — and would also give communities a greater voice in pipeline reviews, he said.

If passed, his Private Members Bill would amend the Canada Shipping Act of 2001.

Namely, tankers under the bill would be prohibited in the Hecate Strait, Dixon Entrance and the Queen Charlotte Sound.

Such a plan would effectively create an oil tanker barrier in the waters between Haida Gwaii and the mainland, including to the top of Vancouver Island.

Cullen said the plan isn’t intended to block anything beyond crude oil tankers.

“We’re…somewhat surgical about this,” he said. “We’ve been very careful not to impact, say, small diesel shipments to local communities…We don’t want unintended consequences.”

Now that the bill is tabled he said it will be sometime in the new year before it gets debated, and he’ll use the time in between to lead a consultation tour through the northwest on the plan.

He’ll be in Kitimat on October 15 at the Legion. The time is not yet known.

“I’m very open…to the idea that this is about consultation and trying to engage people,” he said.

He said addressing LNG traffic would be beyond the mandate he believes he has at the moment.

But that said, Canada does need to discuss energy as a whole.

“Canada needs an energy security conversation,” he said. “Everybody has been calling for it.”