Thursday, July 26, 2012
Harper Ditches the Snitches
Why has Stevie Boy Harper gutted fisheries and marine protection services and staff, leaving the British Columbia coast seriously unprotected, just as he's pushing through the greatest environmental threat our coast has ever seen?
Firing monitoring and research staff, entire departments, at Fisheries and Oceans. Relocating the west coast oil spill emergency centre from, well, the west coast to Quebec? Closing major Coast Guard stations? Why all of this? Why now? There's only one answer. To Harper, the people who protect our coastal environment and our fisheries are potential snitches who'll blow the whistle on him and his Alberta pals.
In today's Times Colonist, Jack Knox interviewed Allan Hughes, who represents 100-Coast Guard members who serve as our marine traffic controllers.
They have a lot of questions about Enbridge's proposal to ship Alberta heavy oil from Kitimat, particularly with Ottawa reducing safety measures on the coast.
Much ado has been made about the federal government's budget-cutting plan to shut the coast guard operation in Vancouver. Less attention has been paid to the closing of two other marine communications and traffic services centres in Comox and Ucluelet, which will leave just the two remaining stations in Sidney and Prince Rupert to handle the entire West Coast. Not only does that mean a loss of local knowledge, but half of the coast could go unmonitored when communications systems fail, Hughes says.
...It can take several minutes to extract even the most basic information from bridge watch-keepers whose grasp of English is tenuous - and when you're in congested waters, you don't have minutes to react.