Today, Vancouver Quadra Liberal MP and former B.C. Environment Minister Joyce Murray introduced legislation in Canada’s House of Commons that would formally ban oil tanker traffic in B.C.’s North Coast. Bill C-606 comes days after a successful House of Commons motion demonstrated support for a legislated ban on oil tankers.
Though the motion carried, the victory was only bittersweet because the motion passed is not binding, and merely calls on the Tory government to legislate a formal ban. The Conservative government maintains that a ban is unnecessary since a long-standing, informal moratorium on oil tanker traffic and all offshore oil and gas activity has been in effect since 1972. Yet last year, the Harper government quietly affirmed that it is not legally bound to maintain a moratorium on oil drilling off the coast of British Columbia. The government determined that the 1972 ban doesn’t technically apply to oil-tanker traffic. To date, eight Canadian prime ministers have upheld the moratorium, but that could all change. The B.C. government is currently lobbying the federal Conservative government to revoke the ban. Opposition parties fear the Tory government will allow the ban to be lifted in order to profit from growing Asian energy markets.