• John Jantak

Mulcair answers Enbridge pipeline question following address to John Abbott College students


PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

Thomas Mulcair (right), federal NDP leader and leader of the official opposition in the House of Commons, chats with a student at John Abbott College in Ste. Anne de Bellevue last Friday, April 20.

Thomas Mulcair took the time after an address to more than 300 CEGEP students at John Abbott College in Ste. Anne de Bellevue, to respond to a question from Your Local Journal about hydrostatic testing of the Enbridge 9B oil pipeline last Friday, April 24. Mulcair, leader of the federal New Democratic Party (NDP) and leader of the official opposition in the House of Commons, was asked about the NDP’s stance regarding whether Canada’s National Energy Board should require Enbridge to conduct hydrostatic testing of its 9B oil pipeline before it begins operating and transporting crude oil from western Canada to Montreal.

“The problem is Prime Minister Stephen Harper has gotten rid of a lot of environmental legislation,” said Mulcair. “He’s gutted the Fisheries’ Act, he’s taken out large sections of the Navigable Waters Protection Act, and he’s removed some protections afforded by the Species at Risk Act.

“So now we no longer have in Canada a credible, thorough environmental assessment process,” he added. “So whether it’s about the reversal of line 9B or any of the other projects on the table now, you can’t approve any of them unless you have a credible process. We will put back a credible process.” The answer was in line with other environmental issues that predominated the speech delivered earlier by the Member of Parliament (MP) for Outremont. Mulcair said that sustainable development must include environmental safeguards because of their direct economic and social impact if they aren’t addressed adequately.

The devastating earthquake that struck Japan in 2011 and the ongoing consequences of radiation leakage from the Fukushima power plant that exploded from the ensuing tsunami, has begun affecting Canada’s Pacific coastline and is another example as to why more focus is required on environmental issues, said Mulcair. “When you’re busy sorting your recycling and you look on the nightly news and realize that Fukushima’s isotopes have made it to the coast of British Columbia, you’re allowed to say to yourself, ‘Who’s really taking care of the environment?’” he said. “This is going to affect you for years to come.”

Mulcair lauded the Quebec Parti Québécois (PQ) government under the governance of Premier Réne Lévesque from 1976 until 1985 for its strong social stance towards its citizens by creating departments such as the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) which established compensation funds for accident victims that reduced private insurance premiums for motorists.

Lévesque was also credited for creating the country’s first environment ministry at the provincial level which now studies and makes recommendations related to new developments and their environmental surroundings. Quebec’s model was subsequently adopted by all provinces and territories, and within the federal government, said Mulcair. He encouraged students to vote during the upcoming election this October saying low voter turnout among young adults in the last election needs to be reversed and stressed the importance of voting to make sure their voices are heard in Ottawa at the federal level.

“There are decisions being taken today which are going to affect the rest of your life,” said Mulcair. “If I can get just a few of you to vote, that’s a victory for me. I’m sincere when I tell you that voting is the most important thing to do,” Mulcair added. “Of course, I prefer if you vote for the NDP, but if I’ve convinced you to vote and you’re going to vote for someone else, that’s still a victory for me because that’s the number one way to get involved.”

Following his speech, Mulcair answered a broad range of questions fielded by students, ranging from the gun registry to the plight of missing and murdered Aboriginal women. Mulcair answered that unlike Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s consistent adamant refusals, his administration would hold an inquiry into their disappearance and deaths.

Mulcair added that as Prime Minister he would have given the federal gun registry data pertaining to Quebec to the province since the information is already available. NDP MPs Jamie Nicholls (Vaudreuil-Soulanges) and Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe (Pierrefonds-Dollard) attended the event, including Ryan Young, the NDP candidate for the Lac- Saint-Louis riding and Ste. Anne de Bellevue city councillor.

The visit was organized the Student Union of John Abbott College (SUJAC) President Nikolas Dolmat and Member of Congress Sonny Santos.

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