New Democrats are calling for a moratorium on offshore work near Cacouna until Conservatives make the scientific advice they based their decision to green-light drilling and seismic surveying public — noting that the area is key to the survival of local beluga whales.
“We have called for a moratorium on all work underway within the belugas’ home environment,” said NDP deputy critic for the Environment, François Choquette (Drummond). “This is an endangered species, and several independent experts believe that it is being affected by these offshore activities. If the government has scientific proof that drilling and seismic surveying will not endanger these animals, it needs to be made public.”
Last June, Choquette visited the Cacouna region, only to find that the advice offered by many scientists, environmentalists and regular citizens had not been taken into account at the worksite. That has led New Democrats to call for the immediate publication of the scientific studies upon which the Conservative government based its decision to allow seismic surveying to begin this past spring, as well as continuous geotechnical drilling.
“We believe that the work should not go ahead as long as the public has not been allowed to see the advice upon which the Conservatives based their decision to authorize the work,” said MP François Lapointe (Montmagny-L’Islet-Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup).
The NDP has also sent several requests to the Committees on the Environment and on Fisheries and Oceans to meet with marine-life specialists to hear how this offshore work will impact the waters off Cacouna. But these Committees—which are controlled by Conservative MPs—rejected our requests.
“This most ridiculous part in all this is that the TransCanada pipeline project has yet to be formally tabled, and has therefore not been subject to a full evaluation. The work near Cacouna is therefore premature and should not have gone ahead without a full assessment of environmental impacts,” added NDP MP Guy Caron (Rimouski-Neigette-Témiscouata-Les-Basques).