25 Council of Canadians chapters ask Trudeau for a meeting on coastal protection


Kent County chapter activist Ann Pohl at the beach in Sainte-Anne-de-Kent, New Brunswick, on the Northumberland Strait.

Twenty-five Council of Canadians chapters have signed a joint letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asking for a meeting with him to discuss the protection of salt water coastal areas, marine life, and our three oceans.

The letter – coordinated by Kent County chapter activist Ann Pohl – includes a background document that outlines some of the issues the chapters would like to discuss with the prime minister.

That four-page backgrounder notes, "Every day, volunteers in the Council of Canadians’ community chapters work with people from local networks and environmental NGO’s across Canada to advocate for marine life and salt water protection. We are united in alarm about the contamination that will certainly result from hundreds of oil and gas export tankers, each day, crossing the fragile and stressed waters of the Georgia Strait, Salish Sea, other western coastal waters, Bay of Fundy, Gulf of Maine, Beaufort Sea, and more of our shore waters."

It then highlights, "In particular, Atlantic Canadians feel betrayed by government on marine protection: 'Frankenfish' in PEI; aquaculture diseases spreading to wild populations (despite government assurances this would never happen); the evaporation of Newfoundland’s cod fishery; the loss of the salmon fishery in New Brunswick; the loss of some unique Striped Bass spawning habitat in Nova Scotia; off-shore drilling throughout the near Atlantic Ocean; etc."

The backgrounder also focuses on the possibly millions of herrings that recently washed ashore along Nova Scotia's western coastline. The Kent County chapter petition that called on federal and provincial governments to act with urgency on this issue has now garnered 72,302 signatures.

And the backgrounder critiques Trudeau's Ocean Protection Program.

It states, "Environmentalist confidence in the Trudeau government further deteriorated with the November announcement of the Ocean Protection Program. Billed as being about proactive protection of the oceans, it prioritizes putting more resources towards clean up costs after anticipated shipping and pipeline accidents on our coasts. This is useful but not 'protective', which means 'preventative' or 'precautionary'. The Program also touts creation of more marine protected areas. Meanwhile, the very fragile and important Gulf of St. Lawrence is still open for oil and gas exploration where, intentionally or not, the planning processes are going slower than industry is moving."

The letter was signed by the St. John's, Inverness County, South Shore, PEI, Moncton, and Fredericton chapters in the Atlantic region; the Montreal, Ottawa, Centre Wellington, Quinte, Peterborough-Kawarthas, Halton, South Niagara, Guelph, Kitchener-Waterloo, Windsor-Essex, and Sudbury chapters in the Ontario-Quebec region; the Winnipeg and Quill Plains chapters in the Prairies-NWT region; and the Chilliwack, Delta-Richmond, Victoria, Cowichan Valley, Comox Valley, and Powell River chapters in the British Columbia-Yukon region.

The Brandon-Westman (MB), Campbell River (BC), and NWT chapters endorsed the request after the communication was sent, and others are testing consensus in their groups. A further communication will be sent to the Prime Minister when chapter support is finalized. Individual Council of Canadians supporters in good standing, where there is no active chapter, are also invited to endorse this grassroots campaign: contact coc.kent.county.nb@gmail.com.

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