Months after the MV Zim Kingston disaster in the waters near Victoria, the North Island-Powell River MP is continuing to push the federal government to address concerns about ocean protection.
MP Rachel Blaney wrote the minister in charge of Transport Omar Alghabra to share local people’s concerns about ocean protections in the wake of the incident.
“All the ministers who have responsibility for our coast need to hear from our communities on this,” said Blaney. “I intend to make sure they do.”
This submission was in response to the consultation process for the Oceans Protection Program (OPP). Blaney’s submission drew on feedback from constituents and touched on the need to address the gap and oversight between departments, developing an emergency response plan, holding companies accountable, and promoting the use of sustainable packaging.
The letter highlights MP Lisa Marie Barron, NDP critic for Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guards’ motion, which looks at the Emergency coastal debris spill response plan. The motion calls for the government to: “immediately deploy a local workforce to support spill containment, shoreline cleanup, and mitigation of environmental impacts, publicly release a full accounting of the environmental impacts of the spillage, including a manifest of all missing cargo, ensure that the operators are held financially liable for the full cost of the cleanup.”
Blaney said she worked with people doing cleanups in affected areas, saying that “often the work continues long past the time we have stopped considering the impacts of the spills.”
The letter includes feedback from constituents, asking for more accountability, a reduction in the use of non-biodegradable packaging in products shipped overseas, local response teams, and for higher standards of ships entering Canadian waters as well as other regulations. It also suggests advocating for a change in mindset when it comes to shopping.
“We shop too much, therefore we ship too much,” the feedback portion of the letter, which summarizes thoughts directly from constituents, says. “The issue is our consumerism mindset and that we define our status and self worth by what we own. We see trade across the oceans as necessary, and I think we need to change that thinking.
“We should be asking ‘what do we really need and why can’t we get by with what we can produce here in our own local area and country?’” the section says. “We need to… educate our children on ways to survive with less, to want less. Stop promoting the term ‘middle class.’
“We only need the basic needs of housing, clean water, locally available food and a sense of community,” it says.
Blaney is continuing to meet with stakeholders and asking for more feedback from local residents on this issue online at rachelblaney.ndp.ca/protectourcoast.