September 4th, 2014

Offshore drilling in Cacouna: the NDP calls for an emergency meeting

The NDP is calling for an emergency meeting of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans to shed light on the offshore drilling TransCanada will soon be doing in the fragile ecosystem off the coast of Cacouna.

“The work will begin very soon and not one independent specialist has been able to show that the conditions upon which the offshore drilling activities were authorized guarantee in any way the safety of belugas,” denounced New Democrat MP François Lapointe (Montmagny-L’Islet-Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup).

For months now, the Conservative majority in Ottawa has stonewalled parliamentarians’ attempts to meet with officials from Fisheries and Oceans Canada in order to obtain answers, and the Conservative government refuses any request to publicize the studies pertaining to these activities. The NDP has therefore written to the Chair of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans and to Minister Gail Shea requesting an emergency meeting.

When the implementation of a methane terminal in Cacouna was being discussed years ago, all work potentially affecting an endangered species were prohibited, thereby protecting the belugas in the area. “Why would it be any different this time? If the government has nothing to hide, they should let us talk with federal scientists and see the studies,” said Lapointe.

“Nobody wins by hiding away information -- not citizens, not elected officials, and not the oil company,” added Lapointe. “The people of Quebec do not deserve to be fed half-truths and to be antagonized. They deserve to have the facts. An emergency session of the committee is necessary if the scientists from Fisheries and Oceans are to shed light on this issue.”

Since July, the NDP has been consulting hundreds of citizens during information sessions, public events and canvassing activities. Lapointe has noticed that the population is in profound disagreement with the way the issue is being handled. The federal government’s refusal to publicly share even the smallest amount of scientific evidence regarding the safety of the drilling activities has reinforced public concerns and distrust.

“As long as the government hides behind its wall of silence -- as long as the environmental impacts remain unknown -- this project will remain unacceptable in the eyes of the NDP and the people of the Lower Saint-Lawrence,” added NDP deputy critic for Environment, François Choquette (Drummond). “I am pleading with the Conservatives on the committee to act as the defenders of transparency and to support our calls for a public meeting with the scientists involved.”