There is already a ban on crude oil tankers through Canada's Pacific north coast. It was announced this spring by the nine first nations that live there. It is unequivocal. If, as British Columbians, we are the kind of people who refuse to pit our communities against each other, if we recognize the authority of a decision made over a place by the people who live there, then we should respect the decision of coastal first nations and follow suit with a federal, legislated ban.
There is no existing crude oil tanker traffic in the area. The choice to ban these tankers is not one of environment over economy. It is a choice of a sustainable economy over an unsustainable economy. Economies are created by people. We choose, collectively, what they look like and how they function. Sustainable economies allow our children and grandchildren to be born with essentially the same opportunities and resources as now. Unsustainable economies cumulatively degrade and deplete.
Allowing oil tankers would threaten the foundations of a sustainable north coast economy. Where oil moves, oil spills. Even from double-hulled tankers; even with tugboats around; even with pilots on board. Machines break and humans err. If oil were to spill on our coast, if it soaked the beaches of our Great Bear Rainforest, we couldn't clean it all up. The Exxon Valdez and the BP spill show us that a single spill can devastate lives, economies, ecosystems and cultures.
There's no need to take the risk. We'll be fine without exporting more oil to China and Asia. When Enbridge, the supertanker proponent, was invited to community forums in northern B.C. by MP Nathan Cullen to discuss alternative ways to create jobs, they weren't interested. We should be.
Know that there are only two kinds of federal politicians in B.C., those who support a legislated north coast ban - the Liberals and NDP - and those who don't: the Conservatives.
Eric Swanson is the No Tankers campaign director for the Dogwood Initiative.