I care deeply about Canada’s ocean health, diversity and bio-abundance – especially wild salmon. As former provincial environment minister, in 2003 I implemented BC’s first-ever regulations limiting salmon farm waste impacts on the vulnerable seabed below. As Vancouver Quadra’s MP since 2008 I’ve listened to constituents, organized town halls, and championed improved ocean and wild salmon protection. So now I’m excited to report the success of another personal campaign within government – setting a fixed end date on the BC coast for transitioning all open pen aquaculture to closed containment! With support from MPs, scientists, groups like Wild Salmon Forever, and the public, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau committed in Platform 2019 to end open net pen salmon farming in Pacific coastal waters by 2025! This provides the aquaculture industry time to develop safer methods of raising salmon, so important local jobs and First Nations partnerships can continue – and grow. Over four years the Liberal government has taken a comprehensive approach to pollution prevention, implementation of Cohen Commission recommendations on salmon, and improved protection and restoration of critical coastal ecosystems in partnership with indigenous people. Our Platform also commits to:
- Designating 25% of Canada’s oceans, freshwater and land as protected areas by 2025; and 30% by 2030, to help protect nature, biodiversity and species at risk.
- Eliminating harmful single use plastics choking the oceans, as early as 2021.
- Renewing the aging Canadian Coast Guard fleet.
Ending open net pen salmon farming will draw on the Liberal government’s re-investment in research and oceans science capacity, and our initiative to study viable closed-pen alternatives elsewhere. We can confidently meet our ocean conservation targets, because in just four years we exceeded our goal of moving from 1.5% to 10% protected areas! Finally, we know harmful single-use plastics can be eliminated because our government already banned plastic microbeads, and the Treasury Board Secretariat project to tackle single-use plastics internally is well underway.
New Liberal platform commitments build on four years of bold action to protect our oceans. We reopened and expanded the Kitsilano Coast Guard Base, and launched the historic $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan to protect coastal areas, restore critical ecosystems, and empower indigenous communities. We also improved our project assessment process and replaced the National Energy Board with a more balanced Canadian Energy Regulator, as promised in 2015.
More recently the Liberal government invested $167.4 million in a new Whales Initiative to protect and recover endangered whale species in Canada by conserving their food sources and creating stricter marine traffic rules around speed, routes, noise and safe zones – for all marine traffic, including ferries.
On October 21 Canadians will either elect a Liberal government that is committed to go further in safeguarding oceans or a Conservative government planning $53 billion in cuts. Would marine scientists and scientific evidence once again land on the cutting room floor? Conservatives have promised to repeal the Liberals’ Bill C-48 to protect BC’s North Pacific coastline from pipelines and oil tankers, a law based on my 2010 private member’s “Tanker Ban” bill. Would they cut the Liberal commitment to reduce the plastics polluting our oceans? I hope not but only you can make sure they don’t.
We have only begun the transition to a sustainable society and bioethical economy. On October 21 please vote Liberal, so we can continue moving forward in this very important direction.