VICTORIA — Canada needs stronger environmental assessment laws to help defend coastal communities from risky pipeline and tanker schemes, the federal Green party says.
The party also wants a legislated ban on supertankers on British Columbia's coast and a moratorium on drilling for oil and gas in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Green Leader Elizabeth May outlined the proposals Tuesday at a news conference, flanked by several election candidates.
The Green party advocates embedding the right to a healthy environment in the Constitution as well as development of a national energy plan with a strong commitment to tackling climate change.
The Greens also want to repeal the government's omnibus security bill, which they say makes it easier for authorities to spy on environmental protesters. The RCMP should receive scientific briefings to ensure police understand the legitimate concerns of people who want action to reduce climate change through less reliance on fossil fuels, the party proposes.
The Greens held two seats in the House of Commons at dissolution, but hope to get enough new MPs elected to be more influential in Parliament.
Every pipeline project — whether it's Enbridge's Northern Gateway, Kinder-Morgan's B.C. expansion through Burnaby Mountain to the Burrard Inlet, Energy East, or Keystone XL — is all about one thing: getting raw, unprocessed bitumen to coastlines, the Greens say.
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper has hurt the economy by putting all of Canada's eggs in the bitumen basket, May charges.
"On top of that, one accident could cripple the entire billion-dollar fisheries and tourism industry upon which our coastal communities depend. It is time to think like a country again and develop a national approach to a diversified energy strategy."
Pipeline projects are approved only after proper independent scrutiny, Harper says.
The Greens claim the National Energy Board has "essentially become a pipeline approval agency."
"With no national policy guidance on either the environmental impacts of resource extraction or in terms of long-term energy goals, the NEB hearings have become a farce," says a party background document. "This must change."
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