Healthy Oceans. Healthy Communities.

Widespread dismay at "backwards" attempt by western Premiers to block coastal protection from oil spills

February 24, 2011
Campbell off-side with 80 percent of British Columbians in bid to support big oil in last days as Premier

February 24, 2011

VANCOUVER – An array of community and environmental groups, and business and fishing interests are expressing shock and disappointment with outgoing Premier Gordon Campbell’s decision to go against the wishes of the majority of British Columbians and side with the premiers of Alberta and Saskatchewan in asking the Prime Minister to defeat a bill that would permanently ban oil tankers through B.C.’s Pacific North Coast.

Introduced by Vancouver Quadra MP Joyce Murray in December of last year, Bill C-606 would protect the abundant North Coast of B.C. from catastrophic oil spills by banning the transportation of crude oil by tankers through the dangerous waters of the region. The bill followed a motion introduced by the federal NDP in December in which a majority of the House of Commons voted in favour of a tanker ban.

The attempt to scuttle a tanker ban by the three premiers is seen as compromising B.C.’s nature-based tourism industry, which brings $1.5 billion annually to B.C.’s economy and employs approximately 26,000 people, roughly half of whom work on the coast.

“Oil tankers could seriously jeopardize the future for nature-based tourism not only on the coast, but potentially throughout B.C., because an oil spill would cause lasting damage to our coast and to B.C.'s reputation,” said Evan Loveless of B.C.’s Wilderness Tourism Association. “We welcome the business certainty provided by this bill, and prefer legislation over review by a panel whose conclusions can be ignored. In the case of the panel for Enbridge’s Northern Gateway proposal, it doesn’t even include a representative of British Columbia.”

Arnie Nagy, a member of B.C.’s United Fisherman and Allied Workers Union responded to the breaking news yesterday afternoon by saying, “when I heard [Mr. Campbell] signed that [letter], I was furious.” Nagy went on to say that it was “absolutely a betrayal of the people of British Columbia.” Nagy said that the fishing industry employs 5-6,000 people, and is at risk from oil tankers proposed for waters that are notoriously difficult to navigate.“One little accident destroys this entire operation,” Nagy said.

Polls have consistently shown that between 75 percent and 80 percent of British Columbians support a ban on tankers on the North Coast, and the Union of B.C. Municipalities passed a motion last year in support.

“Mr Campbell has been forced out because he didn’t listen, and now he’s ignoring more than 80 percent of B.C. as he heads out the door,” said Jennifer Rice of Friends of Wild Salmon. “He's also ignoring the overwhelming voices of northern communities. The public has made it clear: he doesn’t represent British Columbia anymore. I wonder what his potential replacements think?”

Josh Paterson of West Coast Environmental Law added: “A legislative tanker ban is the best and most sensible way to ensure lasting protection of the North Coast from the threat of oil spills. This is forward-looking legislation that will allow the continued growth of a sustainable coastal economy, fisheries and tourism that aren't compatible with tanker traffic and oil spills.”

“British Columbians have spoken loud and clear: we will not put our coast at risk and want a ban on tankers to protect coastal communities and the Great Bear Rainforest,” said Nikki Skuce of ForestEthics. “A majority of Canada’s MPs back us up on this issue. Premier Campbell’s position is so off-side with British Columbians that it could only come from someone not running for re-election.”

“Mr. Campbell is telling British Columbians to give away their power to decide what happens to our rivers and our coast, and put the fate of our communities in the hands of a body with zero B.C. representation,” said  Eric Swanson of Dogwood Initiative. “We say forget it. The decision is for British Columbians to make, British Columbians have been clear, and it’s time for both our provincial and federal government to listen.”

More than 80 First Nations in B.C. have declared their staunch opposition to the proposal for tar sands pipelines and oil tankers in B.C. The Coastal First Nations, on the North Coast, and the Nations of the Fraser watershed have both declared bans on the transportation of tar sands oil through their lands and waters. A majority of the proposed Enbridge pipeline and tanker route is held by Nations that have imposed such bans.

The B.C. New Democrats have taken a position in support of a ban on tankers. Federally, the Liberal Party of Canada, the NDP, the Bloc Québécois and the Greens support a tanker ban, while the governing Conservatives voted against December’s tanker ban motion.


Contact Information

Jennifer Rice – Friends of Wild Salmon 250-600-2455

Nikki Skuce – Forest Ethics 250-877-7762      

Josh Paterson – West Coast Environmental Law Association 778-829-8973

Eric Swanson – Dogwood Initiative 250-858-9990


Deep opposition to oil tankers on the coast - Questions as to federal panel's ability to make right decisioni for British Columbians

  • 2010 polling shows 80 percent of British Columbians oppose oil tanker traffic on the North Coast (Mustel)
  • A broad array of British Columbians have signed up to oppose tankers on the coast (see list below)
  • The Union of B.C. Municipalities overwhelmingly passed a motion in support of a legislated tanker ban on the North Coast, at their assembly of all cities and towns in B.C. in 2010.Over 80 First Nations have declared their opposition to the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline and tankers project, and to the transportation of tar sands crude oil by tanker or pipeline through their territories, waters, and watersheds.
  • More than fifty percent of the combined pipeline and tanker route proposed by Enbridge is through the territories of nations that have not only declared their opposition, but have declared that the project violates their unextinguished Indigenous laws. A tanker ban, based in the laws of the Coastal First Nations, is already in force on the north coast through a declaration passed in March 2010. Sixty-one affected nations, from the orthern interior to the south coast, passed a ban on the transportation of tar sands crude oil through the Fraser watershed in December 2010.
  • The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs and the First Nations Summit, provincial organizations whose memberships represent the overwhelming majority of B.C. First Nations, both passed resolutions opposing the Enbridge pipeline and tankers project at their provincial assemblies.
  • The national Assembly of First Nations, including National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, expressed opposition to the project in December 2010.

The federal Joint Review Panel, which Premier Campbell asks British Columbians to rely upon to decide the future of the coast and the north, lacks B.C. representation.

  • The National Energy Board Joint Review Panel assessing the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline and tankers project has no representation from British Columbia. The members of the panel lack experience in the region, with coastal issues in BC, and with northern BC's unique salmon habitat issues.
  • By contrast, the review panel for the Mackenzie Gas Pipeline of a similar length had seven members, of which four were drawn from NWT First Nations and Inuvialuit communities that could be directly impacted by the project.
  • The Joint Review Panel's January 19 ruling on the issues it will consider indicates that it will overlook critical issues raised by the proposed pipeline and tankers, which need to be considered in order to make a fully-informed decision about the Enbridge project. For example, the Enbridge environmental assessment:
  • will NOT consider the broad climate change and greenhouse gas implications of the project and the related increase in tar sands production, or the impact of the Enbridge project on Canada’s international commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions;
  • will NOT consider the land, water, air, health and social impacts of the increased tar sands developments facilitated by this pipeline;
  • will NOT consider the environmental and climate change impacts of burning the oil and fuel that travels through Enbridge pipelines and tankers; and,
  • ill NOT consider the question of whether this tar sands pipeline scheme should be a part of Canada’s energy future, given the need to transition away from fossil fuels.
  • The Joint Review Panel will also not consider the broader implications of opening up the north coast of BC to crude oil tankers for the first time.

Businesses and organizations in support of an oil free coast


Adaptive Computer Services, 
Bear Claw Lodge,
 Beyond Expectations Communication & Design Solutions, 
Bluewater Adventures
Communications, Energy and Paperworkers, 
Denman Island Chocolate
, Designs In Mind, 
Digital Minds, 
Eagle Dancer Enterprises, 
Ecosummer Expeditions, 
Fish Tales Fly and Tackle
, Great Bear Nature Tours, 
Gyger Guided Fishing Adventures, 
Island Expeditions, 
King Pacfic Lodge, 
Kingfisher Wilderness Adventures, 
KLK Landscape, 
Maple Leaf Adventures, 
McBike Terrace, 
Metlakatla Development Corporation, 
Metlakatla Ferry Service Ltd, .
Mothership Adventures, 
Mykiss Guiding Services, 
Nicholas Dean Outdoors Inc., 
North Pacific Kelp, 
North Coast Anglers, 
Northcoast Concrete Finishing and Construction, 
Northern Bounty Fishing, 
NorthWest Quality Contracting, 
Nourishing Life Acupuncture, 
Ocean Adventures Charter Company, 
Oceanwild Nature Expeditions, 
Oilfree Technologies Inc, .
Olan Garden and Gift
, Orcella Expeditions, 
Sail Piraeus Adventures, 
Seashore Charters, 
Seattle Aero LLC
, Sitka Solutions, 
Sorochan Wood and Metal
, Spirit of the West Adventures, 
Stubbs Island Whale Watching, 
Sweetwater Travel Company, 
Terrapin Homebuilding
, Thunder 1 Adventures, 
Totem Press, 
Wild Lotus Studios, 
Z-Boat Lodge River Guides Ltd.


Alaska Centre for the Environment, 
Alaska Wilderness League
, Alberni Environmental Coalition, 
Alberni Social Justice Group, 
BC Nature (Federation of BC Naturalists), 
Better Environmentally Sound Transportation
, British Columbia Council of Professional Fish Harvesters, 
British Columiba Sustainable Energy Association, 
British Columbia Wetlands Society, 
Broughton Archipelago Stewardship Project
, Busan Education Training Institute
, Canadian EarthCare Society, 
Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, 
Check Your Head, 
Citizens' Council on Corporate Issues, 
Clearwater Biodiversity Project
, Commercial Bear Viewing Association of BC, 
Cook Inlet Keeper, 
David Suzuki Foundation, 
Dogwood Initiative
, Douglas Channel Watch, 
Driftwood Foundation, 
Eastern Canada Chapter of the Sierra Club
, Ecology Action Centre, 
Ecology North, 
Environmental Defence Canada, 
Environmental Club Hammond HS, 
Environmental Commission of the Anglican Diocese of BC, 
Environmental Mining Council of BC, 
Environmental Youth Alliance, 
First Nations Environmental Network
, Forest Action Network, 
FORPA Forest Protection Allies, 
Friends of Boundary Bay, 
Friends of Clayoquot Sound, 
Friends of Cortes Island
, Friends of Renewable Energy, 
Friends of the Tlell, 
Friends of Wild Salmon, 
Georgia Strait Alliance, 
Green Party of BC, 
Greengrass Institute
, Greenpeace Canada
, GSX Concerned Citizens Coalition, 
Gwaii Haanas Tour Operators Association
, Haida Gwaii Marine Resources Group Association, 
Headwaters Initiative, 
International Fund for Animal Welfare - Canada, 
International Network of Forests and Communities, 
International Year of the Tiger, 
Intervention Coalition on Sable Gas Project
, Labour Community Fisheries, 
Letters for Animals Habitat, Development Centre Society, 
Living Oceans Society, 
Malcolm Island Environmental Protection Society
, Mayne Island Naturalists, 
Mississippi 2020 Network Inc.
, MV "Orca Song"
, Natural History Society of Newfoundland and Labrador, 
Natural Resources Defense Council
, Nature Alberta (Federation of Alberta Naturalists), 
Nature Canada, 
Nature Saskatchewan
, Nelson EcoCentre of British Columbia, 
North Coast Cetacean Society, 
North Graham Island Streamkeepers Society, 
Northwest Environmental Advocates, 
Northwest Wildlife Preservation Society, 
North West Watch, 
Northwest Institute, 
, Oceans Blue Foundation, 
Oceans Conservancy Alaska
, Oilwatch Europe, 
Oilwatch Mesoamerica
, Ontario Nature
, Out of the Clamshell, 
Pacific Wild, 
Pacific Biodiversity Institute
, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, 
Pacific Orca Society- ORCALAB, 
Pembina Institute, 
Peoples Action for Threatened Habitat, 
PowerUp Canada, 
Prince Rupert Environmental Society
, Prince Rupert Labour Council, 
Puget Sound Gillnetters Assoc., 
Qualicum Beach Streamkeepers, 
Raincoast Conservation Foundation
, Rainforest Relief
, Reach for Unbleached
, Rivershed Society of BC, 
Round River Conservation Studies
, Save Our Mother Ocean, 
Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of BC
, Seasmoke/ Sea Orca Whale Watching
, Sea to Sands Conservation Alliance
, Sierra Club (US)- National Marine Wildlife and Habitat Committee
, Sierra Club of BC
, Sierra Club of Canada, 
Sierra Club- Haida Gwaii Chapter, 
Sierra Club -South Carolina, 
Sierra Legal Defence Fund, 
Skeena Angling Guides Association, 
Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition, 
SkeenaWild Conservation Trust, 
Society for Conservation Biology-UVIC Chapter
, Society Promoting Environmental Conservation, 
Songbird Project
, Steelhead Society of BC - Northern Branch,
 Struggle to Economize Future Environment (SEFE)
, Students for Environmental Awareness (SEA)
, Surfrider Canada Foundation
, Surfrider- California, 
Surfrider Foundation USA
, Sustainable Communities Consultancy, 
T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation, 
The Campaigns Group of Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific (United World Colleges), 
The Edmonds Institute
, The Marine Connection, 
TREES-Temperate Rainforest Environmental Education Society, 
Tropico Verde, 
United Fishermen and Allied Workers’ Union – Canadian Autoworkers (UFAWU-CAW)
, Valhalla Wilderness Society, 
Voice For All Animals, 
Watershed Sentinel
, Watershed Watch Salmon Society, 
WaveLength Paddling Magazine
, West Coast Environmental Law, 
Western Canada Wilderness Committee, 
Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS, )
Wilderness Tourism Association
, World Wildlife Fund Canada, 
Yukon Conservation Society