There was an oil spill in English Bay last week. And we finally got a chance to see what Harperian austerity has accomplished. Michael Harris writes:
It should be noted that the oil spill, from a brand new ship on its maiden voyage, happened in calm waters. If Mother Nature had been having a bad hair day, things would have been much worse — two tonnes of toxic sludge sloshing hither and yon looking for ducks to coat and gills to clog.
Had it been bitumen, which sinks, as compared to bunker fuel that floats; had it been oozing from a ruptured tanker instead of a leaking grain ship; had it been the Burrard Inlet instead of English Bay, well, let’s just put it this way: it would have been way worse than Sharknado 3.
Six hours went by before skimming operations began. Nine more passed before encircling the leaking vessel with a boom. And while workers from other first responders showed up, Transport Canada and Environment Canada were apparently still looking for their gumboots ashore. As it was, it took 13 hours before local residents and municipal governments were even informed of the toxic spill. Thirty six hours later, it was all taken care of — except for 20 per cent of the oil that ‘must have evaporated.’
Nonetheless, Harper's acolytes took a bow:
Industry Minister James Moore thought the response was “very impressive.” More than that, fear-mongering about the event was misplaced.
“I think it’s irresponsible for people to dial up fear and anxiety,” said Moore. This from the government that made fear mongering a tactic in Canadian politics!
Moore was not the only Conservative cabinet minister who thought the feds deserved a gold star on their homework. Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford bloviated about Canada’s “world-class” safety system.
They didn't mention, of course, that:
Since 2011, when Harper received his majority and no one could stop him anymore, he cut 10 Coast Guard stations. In places like Kitsilano, Comox, and Tofino, federal cutbacks weakened the ability of the Coast Guard to monitor and manage pollution offences. As former Canadian Coast Guard Captain Tony Toxopeus told CBC, the Kitsilano station could have been on the scene of the spill with a dedicated oil pollution response vessel and 300 metres of boom “within 15 minutes.”
What has Harper accomplished? He has destroyed a world class safety system. He is, Harris writes, simply incompetent.