An oily purple-blue sheen of fuel believed to be leaking from a bulk carrier ship has coated water and land in Vancouver’s picturesque English Bay. The spill of the black oil-like substance is raising questions about a slow emergency response and lack of notification to both city officials and the public at a time when tanker traffic through Vancouver waters is expected to increase.
An emergency response team was called in on Wednesday night to deal with the oil slick on the bay that is surrounded by apartments, businesses and touches on the city’s jewel, Stanley Park.
The substance had originally been identified as bunker fuel, but later Thursday officials said they couldn’t identify the oily black substance.
The coast guard’s Capt. Roger Girouard said the worst-case scenario would be that the fuel is raw crude.
Girouard said at a news conference that 1,400 litres of the substance had already been skimmed from the water by clean up crews.
Officials with the city said they were not notified until 6 a.m. Thursday morning – more than 12 hours after the port and coast guard first received reports of a spill.
“This is obviously something that no one in Vancouver ever wants to see – this kind of contamination of our beaches and our seawaters,” said councillor Geoff Meggs at a news conference.
“We will want to find out more about the gap between the spill itself and the notification of our city resources.”
On Thursday afternoon, glossy water coated in a film of pollution lapped onto the shores of English Bay and Second Beach. Several tankers could be seen on the horizon and helicopters flew overhead.
The City of Vancouver warned residents to keep their dogs and boats out of the water.
Mayor Gregor Robertson said in a statement that management of the spill is the responsibility of the federal government through the Canadian Coast Guard, the port and Western Canada Marine Response Corporation.
The city opened its emergency operations centre Thursday and deployed marine units from the Vancouver police and fire and rescue services, he said.
Park rangers were dispatched to monitor the beaches and biologists and wildlife experts were on site to assess the impact of the spill on the shoreline and wildlife.
“Any spill of this nature is met with grave concern by all Vancouver residents, and underscores both the importance of robust oil spill response capacity in our local waters and the need to protect our shores from all such risks in the future,” the mayor said.
Girouard said they believed the spill had come from a cargo ship anchored off the bay, but the ship’s crew denied anything was coming from the vessel.
The red and black ship named Marathassa was surrounded by an orange oil-absorbing boom early Thursday morning.
Several ships with special equipment were seen cleaning up fuel near the vessel.
John Parker-Jervis of Port Metro Vancouver said five boats were out recovering fuel oil throughout the night.
“I don’t know if I would characterize it as a big spill but, you know, a significant operation to ensure cleaning it up.”
But Meggs said what may seem like a small spill to an offshore mariner, is “very, very significant” to the people of Vancouver.
“It underlines it certainly for those who are very concerned about the proposed increased tanker traffic, the vulnerability of our beaches, the possibility that there could be a spill,” he said.
Spencer Chandra Herbert, environment critic for the Opposition New Democrats, said the spill raises concerns about Kinder Morgan’s proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, which would increase tanker traffic.
“Kinder Morgan wants to put oil tankers with diluted bitumen here which could likely sink into our water,” he said.
The Vancouver Aquarium said in a news release that it had deployed its rapid response team to ensure the protection of any fish, seabirds and marine mammals that may be put at risk from the toxic spill.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court of Canada issued a unanimous judgment striking down the ban on physician-assisted dying. Death, and the ways in which it touches our lives, is not easily discussed. In the few short weeks that have passed, I’ve had many difficult conversations with those who applaud — and those who condemn — the court’s decision.
The ruling applies only to competent adults with enduring, intolerable suffering, who clearly give consent to a physician-assisted death, but even within that scope, Canadians have different — and strongly held — opinions and beliefs. Mine is informed by the experience of caring for my father in his final days. It is my personal belief that we need our laws to uphold the Supreme Court’s ruling because it is the right thing to do. We need to hear from others. Whether they are informed by religious conviction, personal experience or professional expertise, Canadians’ voices deserve to be heard.
Moreover, if we are to have a respectful, responsible discussion on this important issue, we need sufficient time to hear from Canadians — from the patients who will be affected by the legislation, from their families, from medical and legal experts.
Understanding the nature of that process, the Supreme Court wisely provided a deadline of one year to draft legislation. With the summer recess and a fall election, parliamentarians will have barely more than 12 sitting weeks to deal with this issue.
That gives us enough time to do this, but no time to waste.
For that reason, this week, our party put forward a motion calling on the House of Commons to take immediate action. We asked that a special committee be appointed to consider the ruling of the Supreme Court, and that it consult with experts and with Canadians. This committee would make recommendations for a legislative framework that would respect the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Canadians’ priorities. The government, however, did not accept our proposal.
As Conservative MP Steven Fletcher noted, the Supreme Court’s decision has “given us a clear path” to “move forward quickly but thoughtfully.” There is no advantage to delaying debate. Indeed, given the timeline offered by the Supreme Court, if Parliament has any intention of addressing this issue before the next elec- tion, these consultations must begin immediately.
We need to have a national conversation on dying with dignity, which includes how we care with empathy and respect for those who are suffering at the end of their lives.
We must have a frank discussion about the quality of care already available, and whether there is equitable access to quality palliative care.
Quebec’s experience shows us that respectful and responsible deliberation is possible. It reminds us that when political parties set aside their differences in service of the public good, co-operation can follow.
Consensus can be found — even on an issue as complex and sensitive as end-oflife care.
The Supreme Court of Canada’s decision on physician-assisted death was not only unanimous — it was unambiguous. It now falls upon us, as legislators, to act.
Canadians expect leadership from their elected representatives. Given that the government did not support our proposal, the prime minister now has a responsibility to share his plan with the country.
A respectful, responsible discussion on dying with dignity requires time to hear from Canadians, including patients and medical and legal experts
The Conservatives talk a good game on freedom, but their words don’t match their record. Their instincts are now to be suspicious of people who do not share their beliefs, to harden divisions with people whose views differ from their own. This is an extension of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s politics of fear and division. They have accused two leaders of the NDP of sympathizing with terrorists, acclaimed human rights activist and former justice minister Irwin Cotler of anti-Semitism, and declared that ‘ you’re either with us, or you’re with the child pornographers.’ Such rhetoric might work politically in the short term, but it’s corrosive over time. It stokes anxiety and foments fear. That’s not how we do things in Canada. While we’ve had dark moments in our history - like the internment of Ukrainians, Japanese and Italian Canadians during the First and Second World Wars - we have had thousands more hopeful, open moments - like the Underground Railroad or the Multiculturalism Act - that have come to define who are as a country. Unlike many others, we have built our country around shared values and our core value is a very Canadian idea of liberty: inclusion, and it is deeply woven into our public institutions. From the protection of both official languages to the acceptance of refugees fleeing persecution, Canadian inclusiveness should be celebrated. In this country we understand that people are defined both by the things that unite and distinguish us from one another. Yet despite these traditions, it will take political leadership to sustain liberty in Canada. Recently we have seen our prime minister telling women what they can and cannot wear on their head at public ceremonies. That ought not to be his business. Whatever happened to disagreeing about someone’s choices, but defending their right to make them? The prime minister ought never blur the line between a real security threat and simple prejudice. Fear is a dangerous thing. Once it is sanctioned by the state, there is no telling where it might lead. We must reject Mr. Harper’s politics of fear. Canada is strong not in spite of our differences, but because of them. Our leaders must work to bring Canadians together, not divide them against one another.
OTTAWA — Justin Trudeau’s Liberals, struggling during a polarizing debate between the Conservatives and NDP on war and national security, are launching a pre-election advertising campaign Wednesday aimed at getting Canadians to think about the economy.
The four radio ads, provided in advance Tuesday to The Vancouver Sun, are targeting key voterich areas including B.C.’s Lower Mainland.
The radio campaign features Trudeau’s voice-over blasting Conservative government policy on pensions and promising a Liberal government will cancel the $2-billion-a-year incomesplitting program, which economists say favours the rich, and use that money to help the middle class.
The radio ads — three are 30 seconds, one is a minute — are the first by the Liberals to focus on specific policy positions.
They are being unveiled at a time when the national debate has focused on the military campaign against the deadly Islamic State group and Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s proposed national security legislation.
Both the government and the New Democratic Party have clear positions in favour and opposed, while Trudeau has sought a nuanced position on both policies that has drawn some criticism.
The ads focus on a Liberal promise to reverse Harper’s decision to gradually increase the eligibility age for Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement cheques from 65 to 67. Trudeau also promises to work with provincial governments to reform and enrich the Canada Pension Plan.
He also goes after the Harper government’s income-splitting program, which allows a higherearning taxpayer with at least one child under 18 to transfer part of their income to a spouse in a lower tax bracket.
“I’ll cancel that tax break for the rich and use that money to help our middle class and those working hard to join it,” Trudeau says. “You know — the people who actually need the help.”
The campaign timing is good, according to University of Victoria political scientist Kimberly Speers, and not just because the Conservatives are unveiling a budget in April.
“It’s tax season and Canadians are paying extra attention to their own financial situation and likely wish they were in a better situation.”
Speers, who listened to the four ads, said they should be effective in reaching the Liberal targets — older Canadians approaching retirement, who tend to vote in larger numbers than youth, and the so-called “middle class.”
The message could resonate with Canadians but only if Trudeau, who has been criticized for lacking solid policies, comes up with a comprehensive platform for “wavering Canadians” to back up the rhetoric, she said.