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Oil Tanker Moratorium Act back en route through Parliament

Monday, June 17, 2019

Government rejects Senate amendment that would add unneeded re-assessment of the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act

VANCOUVER, BC, Coast Salish Territories - Environmental lawyers support the federal government’s decision to turn down a Senate amendment to Bill C-48, the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act, which would have put this critical protection for the Pacific north coast under re-assessment within months of passing.

“Since the 1970s, the question of bulk oil tanker transport and development in BC north coast waters has been studied by at least three Parliamentary committees, four review panels and one commission of inquiry,” stated Gavin Smith, Staff Lawyer at West Coast Environmental Law Association. “It’s time to bring lasting protection to the Pacific north coast from oil tankers, and we don’t need to add another assessment to the pile in order to do that.”

While the Senate passed Bill C-48 last week, it inserted an amendment that would require the government to launch an assessment, within 180 days after the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act comes into force, to consider oil tanker transport on the Pacific north coast and issue a report within four years. The Senate amendment would also require the federal government to invite the governments of Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia and Indigenous nations in the region to establish a process to jointly conduct the assessment. The same amendment would then require a Parliamentary committee to review the Act after five years.

The government tabled a motion today to reject the requirement for an assessment, while accepting the requirement for a Parliamentary committee review of the Act after five years.

“While we support the government’s efforts to advance the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act, it’s disappointing to see the addition of a committee review provision because there has already been almost a half-century of review, study and debate on this issue,” said Smith. “The government aptly noted today that there is considerable public ‘fatigue’ after debating this for so long. Inserting a committee review will require yet another re-argument of the issue in just five years.”

The government motion on Bill C-48 is currently being debated in the House of Commons, after which it is expected to be passed and sent back to the Senate for a decision, with time running short before Parliament rises for the summer.

“Ultimately, Bill C-48 needs to pass in order to fulfill the government’s longstanding promise to protect the region, and cement the nearly 50-year history behind a Pacific north coast oil tanker ban,” Smith said.

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For more information, please contact:

Gavin Smith | Staff Lawyer, West Coast Environmental Law Association
604-601-2512, gsmith@wcel.org