Thursday, 11 June 2015

Coast Guard?

This is what Prime Minister Harper said in the summer of 2012 when he dictated that our BC Coast Guard base on Kitsilano point be closed - "the closing of a Vancouver coast guard station is in keeping with his government’s emphasis on public safety."
And they closed it in Feb 2013. And they sold off the Coast Guard boat and the inflatables that worked with it. This reallocation is 'best for the public'. The Coast Guard station would be moved to Richmond and serviced by one lumbering Hovercraft that takes over 30 minutes to get around Point Grey to be of any good to distress calls from English Bay. And there is another Station in Stanley Park that would have the same response time going into Burrard Inlet and through Lions Gate before getting to English Bay. The very idea that the False Creek Station was closed indicates a lack of understanding about the Vancouver area geographics. Have the Feds ever even looked at a chart?

In summer, and indeed, most of the year, we have many many boats in English Bay, including these world traveling freighters. We are not the frozen port of Montreal or Halifax where people keep their boats moored for 10 months. Vancouver Coast Guard was the busiest base in Canada. And we have yet again seen the reaction from a Federal Government in Ottawa that has no idea what lies across the Rockies. And if they do know there is a thriving port here they choose to ignore us. Yet again. We wonder if they know there is an actual province out here! But then our BC votes don't actually count in Federal elections, do they?

Cutting costs has resulted in a delayed response to our oil spill. If the Kitsilano Station was still open at the entrance of False Creek it might have taken 5 minutes to have a boat checking out that spill. As it was in fact, no one was active for 6 hours after the spill was detected. And the City of Vancouver was not told that our precious waters were fouled for 13 HOURS! And then when the Richmond Coast Guard was contacted they responded that 'we don't do oil spills!'

So now Vancouver Mayor, Gregor Robertson is telling that the response is inadequate and shows lack of leadership with the Federal and Provincial governments. We think he should be screaming bloody murder!  Christy Clark, our beloved Premier, covering her own ample ass, and stuttering away when asked what her government has done so far, says Mayor Robertson 'doesn't understand how the 'unified command works'.  How much do you need to know about a toxic oil leak contamination our pristine waters?

Federal Industry Minister, James Moore, commenting from the high towers of Ottawa, says the spill is 80% cleaned up, but from aerial film, it looks like it is all over the English Bay, from Kitsilano to West Van beaches. Even into Georgia Straight. And it seems like 80% is the standard figure for media consumption. Moore says the West Coast people are making political jabs without having the facts. We wonder what you can see of our waters from 3000 miles away?

So we have people saving ducks on our shores.  We have agencies warning us not to swim in our water. Don't even touch it! Recently we had Orcas in English Bay, thrilling people everywhere. Humpbacks are nearby, our water is so clear and fresh. Now we have it spoiled. And the worst is yet to come when Prime Minister Harper pushed through the Northern Gateway oil pipeline and the Kinder-Morgan double pipeline to Burrard Inlet. And already those oil corporations have spun is with crap about how responsible they are. And how there is no danger to Vancouver area or our whole western coast.

What'll happen now? Minister Moore is telling us the ship owners based in bankrupt Greece will pay for it all. Sure. You cannot sweep oil spills under the rug, because they tend to seep through. We bet the taxpayer will be on the hook for this one for lack of Federal Leadership and the guts to enforce the bill. Business trumps everything in Conservative governments.
What will it do to Vancouver's image? Do tourists want to come to a place where people are warned not to go near the water?  Do they want to sit on a beach with oil rings around the rocks? Or dead oily birds washed up?

What about the provincial government? Clark's stammering response tells you a lot, she just wants out of here, maybe another trade trip to India.
Whatever happens in the next while, we need to pay attention. And see if the promises get followed through. We think Harper will simply tell media to stop reporting. And they will.
We think that appropriate action would be to refuse to elect toadies in the BC Federal Conservative Party that turn against British Columbians on the first plane to Ottawa. We need to punish them gravely.
And trusting Christy Clark with our beautiful city and coast is a non-starter, it is she that doesn't understand.

This spill is only a starter and is an omen of things to come. Does anyone still believe shipping companies can respond to a spill of bitumen in
You can take action, but you must have a memory of things when you go into that voting booth. That is where your power begins. Vancouver is a treasured jewel in Canada, and most of the people here think that way.  Get rid of those who don't understand.

addenda: James Moore has stepped away from politics, so we won't get answers there. But we all know he'll be back to try to recover the Conservative Party after Canadians toss out Harper. The suspicious thing here is that the Federal Government closed BC Coast Guard stations, while KNOWING they were going to open new ones on the East Coast. More votes there. Sort of pokes you in the eye doesn't it?

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Keep it civil, folks, I know you're angry but try not to swear too much.