VICTORIA— New Democrat leader John Horgan issued the following statement on the grounding of the Nathan E. Stewart and associated fuel spill:
“The Nathan E. Stewart tugboat disaster proves that our oil-spill response capacity is woefully inadequate. B.C. needs better spill response capacity, whether the federal government tries to push new pipelines through B.C. or not.
“Christy Clark could have demanded better spill response on our coast from Ottawa years ago. She could have run a B.C.-led environmental review on Enbridge and Kinder Morgan, but instead she accepted the flawed Harper government process, refusing to use the leverage she had to protect our coast until she was ordered to do an environmental review by the courts.
“It was bad enough that Christy Clark refused to use her power to protect our coast until ordered to by the courts. What makes it worse, Christy Clark is accepting the Harper government verdict in its entirety and refusing to correct the flawed National Energy board assessment of oil spill risk now that the court-ordered environmental assessment of the Kinder Morgan expansion is underway.
“Diesel is leaking into the water near Bella Bella. My heart goes out to members of the Heiltsuk First Nation, who must be feeling devastated by the contamination. I hope above all odds that the local clam beds aren’t affected in the long term.
“This spill underlines the fact that five years after issuing her call for “world-class” oil-spill response on the B.C. coast, Christy Clark has failed to achieve anything close to that from the federal government.
“By using protection of our coast as a bargaining chip in pipeline negotiations, the Christy Clark government ignored the very real risks from existing traffic. The grounding of the Nathan E. Stewart amply demonstrates that neither the federal government nor the Christy Clark government are doing enough to protect our coast.
“B.C.’s coastal and First Nations communities are often the first to respond to marine disasters, and in the absence of federal leadership, the province should have been working with coastal communities to ensure they have the resources and equipment they need.
“The Heiltsuk are doing an admirable job in the immediate aftermath of this spill. They shouldn’t have had to do the job alone, without support from either our provincial or federal government.
“British Columbians expect their government to be a strong voice for British Columbia. The Christy Clark government has failed to stand up for British Columbia where it matters.”