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NEWS RELEASE · 21st November 2013
Open letter to Joe Oliver, Minister of Natural Resources, and Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Dear Ministers,

This is an open letter regarding the 21 October 2013 report, entitled Recovery Strategy for the North Pacific Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) in Canada, from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans on a recovery strategy for humpback whales in Canada. As you are likely aware, it is part of the DFO’s mandate to help this species recover from a century of whaling that nearly drove the species into extinction. The report identified four areas of “critical habitat” for humpbacks, one of which is at the mouth of the Douglas Channel, the gateway from Kitimat to the Pacific Ocean. The report also identified vessel traffic and toxic spills as two of the greatest threats to the recovery of this species.

Thus, it was with shock and dismay I recently learned of the decision by the federal joint review panel for the Northern Gateway project to ignore the report as evidence in its ruling, as though vessel traffic and the potential for toxic spills were not two of the primary environmental concerns surrounding this proposal.


It is particularly stunning given that the report, submitted to the panel last week, was authored by a federal government agency, and yet the federal government is now saying it refuses to take into account its own information when ruling on this project. It begs the question of why we even have a federal government agency devoted to ensuring the health and viability of our fisheries and our waters when the research and recommendations they produce are ignored by the very same federal government.

The purpose of the joint review panel hearings is to weigh the available scientific evidence in determining whether this project will negatively impact habitat and endangered species. The purpose of the work of the DFO is to ensure that information is considered when the government is weighing projects which will impact habitat and endangered species. The decision by the JRP to ignore the DFO report is not only wasteful indifference; it’s a double-play failure and abrogation of the duty of both of your departments to protect endangered species and our natural environment.

I wish I could feign some measure of surprise on this matter. But like many Canadians, I have come to see this kind of negligence as not only a passing tendency of the Conservative government but as a very intentional aspect of the government’s resource and environmental policy.

When the government of Canada ignores its own science on endangered species protection, it’s no wonder why Canada has lost all credibility on environmental stewardship among both its own citizens and the international community.

Nathan Cullen
MP Skeena—Bulkley Valley
Being Prime Minister means never having to say you're sorry.
Comment by Al Lehmann on 10th December 2013
If Canadians actually expect rational behavior from Harper and his caucus of obedient clones, they haven't been paying attention. The Conservative record of environmental destruction and social indifference is open for all to see.

The Conservative government is proud of its accomplishments, stupid as they are (both government and accomplishments.

It is gratifying, however, that our MP is on the job and drawing this government's malfeasance to the attention of the constituency.
Don't back down
Comment by Bin on 30th November 2013
Soon enough the report from the gateway pipeline public meetings will be delivered. I'm sure the pre-decided paper will try not to be too surprising. I hope however that when the cheque books come out to finish the buy-out that some areas will stick with their plans to say NO and not cave in to the all the cash.

Save our whales, save our enviroment, save our towns but above all save us from the need to sell every last drop of oil and natural gas as quickly as we can to the other side of the world.

Find the middle ground where Eastern Canada is buying oil from Western Canada and not importing from the Middle East. Sell what is left to whoever will pay the most. Make your money. Stand your ground. Support your country.

No other country is lining up to sell us all their natural resources after we use all ours up.
this is why
Comment by me on 29th November 2013
this is why we love you Nathan.
Well said
Comment by Gareth on 24th November 2013
Thank you Mr Cullen for attempting to hold this government to account. I hope one day democratic principles of transparency and accountability return to this Federal Government.