Conservatives putting waterways at risk

The Harper Conservatives have begun gutting the regulatory bodies put in place to monitor the health of Canada’s waterways

In a letter penned to the president of the Union of Environment Workers, Department of Fisheries and Oceans Minister Keith Ashfield stated that the Harper government has “new tools to authorize deposits of deleterious substances,” also known as pollutants, into Canadian waterways. Here we have a man whose job it is to protect and manage the waterways of Canada talking about how the government has more power to allow industry to pollute them. To the people of this community that voted and support Harper Conservatives like Dan Albas, I just would like to ask, what do you have against fish and clean water?

Over the past couple months, the Harper Conservatives, with the support of Okanagan-Coquihalla MP Dan Albas, have begun gutting the regulatory bodies put in place to monitor the health of Canada’s oceans, rivers and lakes. They fired Canada’s only marine-mammal toxicologist, who stated “I cannot think of another industrialized nation that has completely excised marine pollution from its radar.” They shut down Canada’s entire Department of Fisheries and Oceans contaminants program. They shut down the Pacific coast’s regional oil-spill response centre and moved it east. Closed multiple coast guard stations. Gutted the Fisheries Act, all the while advocating for supertanker traffic in the Douglas Channel in conjunction with the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline which will cross a thousand-plus fish-bearing streams — carrying some of the most toxic crude in the world.

They also cut the famed Experimental Lakes Program which was instrumental in the banning of phosphorus in detergents and stopping acid rain. The program is important to understanding the effects of water pollution and how to clean that pollution up. But at $600,000 a year, it was just too expensive to keep running. The Harper Conservatives will authorize the polluting of our waterways, and because they have destroyed our capacity to monitor and understand the effects of that pollution, we’ll have no idea the amount of damage that’s being done in the back country. It’s a slippery slope. If we don’t know what level of damage is being done to the environment, the Conservatives and industry will state that there is no problem. If there is no problem and no account of the damage being done, then what’s stopping them from increasing the amount of poison being dumped in our water?

Dan Albas needs to pick up a history book. The regulatory bodies and laws put in place to protect Canada’s waterways weren’t enacted by people hell bent on stopping ‘development,’ but were put in place because it was observed that when you dump poison in a waterway it threatens life.

We know better now, it’s uneconomical, dangerous and inherently immoral. It’s also grade school science. It was also observed that industry could not be trusted to do what’s ethical because that’s not how industry works. Industry is in the business of profitability and greed.

So if the government doesn’t compel a company to find a better, less damaging way of disposing of its ‘deleterious substances,’ the company will default to the cheapest option. Like dumping toxins into a water body. Then the extra cash saved shows up as profits which are reaped by the shareholders who don’t live in the area affected and who never have to deal with poison in their water. When the interests of government and corporations are indistinguishable from one another what you have is corporatism – a system of government advocated by the likes Benito Mussolini.

Cody Young

 

Penticton