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View Gord Johns Profile
NDP (BC)
View Gord Johns Profile
2018-12-03 11:55 [p.24294]
Mr. Speaker, we have heard, time and time again, that a garbage truck of plastic is entering our oceans and our waterways every minute, globally. In fact, here in Canada, we produce more garbage per person than any other country in the developed world.
Today, a CBC article on my motion said:
Scientists with the Vancouver Aquarium say the average Canadian uses up to four times their body weight in throw away plastics every year. Enough of it is ending up in oceans, lakes and rivers that plastic is being found in shellfish and even drinking water.
Every year, 10,000 metric tons of plastic end up in the Great Lakes alone. Single-use plastics affect us all, and we now have an opportunity to act. These are alarming statistics, and I know that members on all sides of the aisle are hearing from their constituents that we need to act.
On the weekend the member from Victoria introduced me to 16-year-old Anastasia Castro of Saanich, an amazing young environmental activist, who along with friends has launched "Kids for a plastic free Canada.” She is part of the new generation of environmental stewards who are taking on the serious issue of marine debris and plastics entering our aquifers and our oceans.
Due to the hard work of incredibly dedicated Canadians like Anastasia, the crisis of marine plastic pollution has reached the national stage. Unfortunately, action on the issue has been slow-moving.
This is only the second piece of legislation around plastic, the first being from the member for Windsor West and Megan Leslie, the former member for Halifax, who introduced their motion on banning microbeads in 2015.
When I first rose in this House, following the Hanjin container spill off the coast of my riding on Vancouver Island, we only heard platitudes from the government in response to calls for action to support the hundreds of volunteers who had taken to the beaches to recover tonnes of styrofoam and marine debris. I congratulate the government for its statements of good intentions, and for its pledges and promises along with those of other G7 nations. I want to recognize the limited actions that have been taken in recent months by the government.
Having said that, we need to go further and faster. When we tried to find support for communities struggling to respond to the crisis on our coastline, senior officials told us that there is a legislative and regulatory void and they were sorry, but no help was forthcoming.
This motion seeks to fill that void through the seven steps set out by the University of Victoria's Environmental Law Centre. The proposed regulatory action is aimed at reducing plastic debris discharge from stormwater outfalls, industrial use of microplastics, and consumer and industrial use of single-use plastics. The programmatic proposals include the provision of permanent, dedicated and annual funding for the cleanup of derelict fishing gear; community-led projects to clean up plastics and debris on shores, banks, beaches and other aquatic peripheries; and education and outreach campaigns on the root causes and negative environmental effects of plastic pollution in and around all bodies of water.
This motion is the product of hard work by dozens of environmental organizations, educational institutions, churches, businesses and corporations. In particular, I want to thank Surfrider Pacific Rim and Clayoquot Clean Up, Communities Protecting our Coast, the Association of Denman Island Marine Stewards, Ocean Legacy, the T. Buck Suzuki Foundation, Vancouver lsland coastal communities, the Union of British Columbia coastal municipalities, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, and community champions who monitor and clean our beaches and coastlines without any support from our federal government. I want to thank Margaret Atwood, who supported my motion.
I want to thank the tens of thousands of everyday Canadians who have signed petitions, knocked on doors and, in other various forms, have supported this motion. I want to thank all members of this House from all political parties who have chosen to stand in support of our precious marine environment, committing to supporting this motion, and especially the government today for finally coming forward to support this motion.
I have talked to people from across this country, and because of this campaign, we have given people hope, people who were feeling hopeless. By demonstrating our commitment to cleaning our oceans and waterways by voting for this motion, we as parliamentarians are bolstering this renewed optimism.
I am reminded of Tommy Douglas. I am also reminded of Jack Layton, who famously said, “Don't let them tell you it can't be done.” Coastal people and Canadians have been listening to these words, and we have the opportunity, the love, hope and courage that Jack Layton spoke of and embodied, to tackle this issue, and leave a better Canada for future generations.
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