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Council of Canadians wants federal Fisheries minister to oppose oil & gas drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence

Old Harry Map

Federal fisheries minister Hunter Tootoo visited Prince Edward Island today to consult on what marine areas should be protected.

CBC reports, “Federal Fisheries and Oceans Minister Hunter Tootoo visited P.E.I. on Thursday [Jan. 14], meeting with P.E.I. Premier Wade MacLauchlan, provincial fisheries officials and members of the P.E.I. fisheries industry.” The Guardian adds, “He met with several representatives from the province’s commercial fishing industry, including the P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association, seafood processors as well as representatives of the P.E.I. Aquaculture Association.”

A local media release highlights, “Since being sworn in as Minster, Hunter Tootoo has met with a number of environmental groups from the Arctic and the West Coast to determine and finalize a list of places that will be added to the list of protected marine areas.” The Guardian highlights, “P.E.I. environmentalists are calling for some facetime with the minister, as well. The Council of Canadians is a member of the Save Our Seas and Shores P.E.I., which is a coalition of organizations and individuals against oil drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Leo Broderick with the Council of Canadians says, ‘It is disappointing that Minister Hunter Tootoo has not included consultation with environmental groups like the SOSS in his first official visit to P.E.I.'”

The drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence would take place at a site known as Old Harry, which is situated midway between Quebec’s Magdalen Islands and Cape Anguille, the most western point of land on the island of Newfoundland. It has been estimated that there might be as much as two billion barrels of recoverable oil and 5,000 billion cubic feet of natural gas there.

The Council of Canadians has opposed the plan to drill for oil and gas in the Gulf of St. Lawrence for years now.

In November 2010, we joined with Save Our Seas and Shores, Attention Fragile (Magdalen Islands), Sierra Club Atlantic, and the Ecology Action Centre to call for a moratorium on oil and gas development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In April 2011, our Atlantic chapters issued a statement that noted, “The lack of public consultation and the information void around the proposed drilling has created more questions than answers.” In September 2012, Broderick participated in a silent march in favour of a moratorium as energy ministers met in Charlottetown. And in October 2012, Halifax-based Council of Canadians organizer Angela Giles raised our concerns with the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board’s consultation’ process on oil and gas in the Gulf of St. Lawrence at a media conference in Sydney, Nova Scotia.

In Oct. 2015, CBC reported, “The Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition is calling for a 12-year exploration moratorium, which [Troy Jerome, executive director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat] says is needed so the government can conduct a comprehensive review and environmental assessment. Jerome hopes the election of the federal Liberals will mean more co-operation from government, which is a promise Liberal candidates were making at doorsteps, he says. ‘This will be one of the first tests that they will be challenged with because of the fact we’ve been trying to stop this for many years now and now that they’re the new government, now it’s their time to step up to the plate’, said Jerome.”

For more on the Save Our Seas and Shores coalition, please click here.