By: The Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport
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I would like to outline the government of Canada’s way forward on protecting Canada’s oceans and waterways, in response to Laurie Gourlay’s commentary (“Bold moves needed to preserve the Salish Sea,” Jan. 7).
Canadians are fortunate to have some of the most spectacular coastlines on the planet. Our oceans are one of our most valuable resources, and with them come tremendous responsibility. That responsibility includes ensuring safe and clean marine shipping, which is essential to Canadians and to growing our middle class.
Every day, Canadians consume thousands of goods that arrive by ship from elsewhere in the world. In fact, marine shipping and transportation are integral to Canada’s economy — much of our goods, such as minerals, oils, metals and wood, are exported by marine transportation to international markets.
The government’s Oceans Protection Plan will better protect Canada’s coasts and waterways while also growing the economy in a responsible way.
The government is working with indigenous and coastal communities to develop and deliver measures that directly affect them and to protect sensitive areas such as the Salish Sea. Transport Canada is working with many other federal departments, including Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Canadian Coast Guard, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, and Natural Resources Canada to address plans for climate change, fisheries and aquaculture, and ensure the protection of coastal habitat and marine ecosystems.
Through the Oceans Protection Plan, the federal government will set up a Coastal Restoration Fund to create a pilot baseline monitoring program to better understand the cumulative effects of shipping on coastal ecosystems; develop appropriate mitigation measures; and better monitor cleanup in the event of a spill.
In addition to this program, investments will be made in the preservation and restoration of vulnerable coastal marine ecosystems. Funding will help establish coastal zone plans and identify restoration priorities on all three coasts. Habitat restoration projects will also engage indigenous groups, resource users, and local groups and communities.
Federal departments and agencies are also working together to:
- Improve marine-traffic monitoring by opening new radar sites in key strategic locations on the West and East coasts;
- Invest more money in people, equipment and technology for the Canadian Coast Guard, to strengthen its ability to protect Canada’s waters 24/7;
- Provide more funding for Canadian research on coastal marine environments, to learn more about the effects of shipping and what’s needed to help marine species and mammals, including orcas and wild salmon, to thrive; and
- Set up tougher requirements on industry to provide quicker action for any spills from a ship.
Restoring lost protections under the Navigation Protection Act and incorporating modern safeguards is also a key priority for the government. The review of changes to this act provides opportunities for all Canadians to provide feedback on what levels of protection should be provided to promote Canada’s economic development while maintaining a safe and environmentally sustainable transportation system.
Canadians want jobs and prosperity, but not at the cost of our environment. They want the government to improve our trade corridors so we can prosper in a global, integrated economy. They do not want their imported goods to have harmed our waters when they arrive here. They want Canadian products shipped to the world in an environmentally responsible way.
The success of the Oceans Protection Plan is that it recognizes the economic importance of our shipping industry and provides the necessary resources to protect our environment.
Working with our indigenous partners, we will ensure the efficient transportation of goods, protect and create jobs, and preserve the unique environment that we cherish as Canadians.
By working together with our partners along the coasts and across the country, I know we can preserve our coastlines for generations to come.
Marc Garneau is Canada’s transport minister.