Alistair MacGregor, NDP MP for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford, took the prime minister and the previous Conservative government to task for inadequate efforts to protect Pacific wild salmon.
During Question Period in the House of Commons last week, MacGregor addressed the issue directly to the Speaker of the House.
“Mr. Speaker, the west coast has suffered through a decade of Conservative mismanagement of Pacific wild salmon, including cuts to DFO (Department of Fisheries and Oceans) and gutting habitat protection. Now we have a Liberal government that has spent billions of dollars on a leaky pipeline and will increase tanker traffic in our sensitive marine environment, putting salmon and whales at risk. Vancouver Island coastal communities have had enough. They want a full recovery plan. Will the prime minister listen to them, and to coastal leaders like Chief Bob Chamberlain, and protect wild salmon?”
MacGregor elaborated on his concerns in a follow-up interview with the Gazette.
“The Liberals keep pointing to the roughly $142 million investment they have made in salmon protection, but I think it’s important to note that is spread over five years,” he said. “Less than $30 million a year is not nearly enough for the coastal communities affected, especially contrasted with the $4.5 billion they’ve spent on a pipeline that can cause more risk.”
The situation is exacerbated by the fact the previous Conservative government made significant cuts to the DFO’s budget, he stressed. “They were brutal and we’re just starting to recover from that. There are a lot of angry fisherman, and I’m trying to convey the anger many of my constituents have. The government needs to take a more serious approach. It’s time to step up before it’s too late.”
There’s been a major problem with salmon on the west coast for far too long, he added. “We’ve needed these resources for a long time, especially funds earmarked for habitat restoration.”