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View Gord Johns Profile
NDP (BC)
View Gord Johns Profile
2020-03-09 18:56 [p.1837]
Madam Speaker, we know that we are facing a global crisis right now when it comes to marine plastic pollution and the impact it is having on our oceans. Right now we are seeing over eight million tonnes of plastic pollution entering our oceans every year globally. This plastic pollution is killing hundreds of thousands of marine animals and millions of seabirds. It is a huge problem not just globally, but certainly here at home as well. When we talk about the state of our oceans and our duty to protect them, it is for the species that do not have a voice.
There was a spill off the west coast of British Columbia four years ago. Thirty-five large shipping containers spilled into our waters and the Government of Canada was nowhere to be seen. It fell on the backs of local communities and local stakeholder groups like Clayoquot CleanUp, which is now called the Coastal Restoration Society, and Surfrider Pacific Rim, to take on the challenge of cleaning up the marine debris that spread throughout our coast.
We are also hearing about our garbage ending up in places like the Philippines. Members may recall the Philippines declared war on Canada because of the government's inability to deal with a problem and it grew into a diplomatic relationship issue. The Philippines did not want our garbage and it sat in a harbour there for several years. We are hearing that our garbage is ending up in Malaysia. Children are living in plastic garbage slums, and it is our plastic and our garbage. It is disgraceful and embarrassing for all Canadians. Children should not be living among our garbage in developing nations. It needs to stop. It can stop.
The Government of Canada has signed a part of the Basel Convention whereby it has to get permission from developing countries to stop shipping its garbage to developing nations. What we want is the government to not even seek permission, but to actually stop shipping our garbage to developing nations. It needs to stop. It is the responsible thing to do.
I do want to applaud the government for hearing our voices and feeling the pressure from us calling on the government to take on this huge issue. We worked with the government and the Minister of Environment when he was the parliamentary secretary. He came to Victoria for a meeting with me and the former member for Victoria, Murray Rankin. We met with the University of Victoria environmental offsetter, who had produced a report on the seven ways to address marine plastic pollution. The government did encapsulate some of those recommendations. It has taken some action when it comes to dealing with ghost and derelict fishing gear.
The government has talked a great bunch about single-use plastics, but we still have not seen any action or commitments. Despite the fact that nations and jurisdictions around the world have taken action, this is still falling on the backs of local governments and provincial governments.
The environment and the species in our environment cannot wait any longer. We are calling on the government to make an announcement about its single-use plastic commitments and to commit to dealing with industrial-use plastics.
I look forward to hearing from the parliamentary secretary. I look forward to continuing to work with the government on dealing with this urgent matter.
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