Murray Rankin, M.P.: Speech to Montreal Convention Of the New Democratic Party, April 13, 2013


Murray Rankin, M.P.:  Speech to Montreal Convention Of the New Democratic Party, April 13, 2013

Good Morning, New Democrats!

It is wonderful to be with you today.

As I look around this huge room this morning, and I as listened to the debates yesterday, I see the team that will put in place Canada’s first federal NDP government in 2015!

I also recognize the conviction that will be needed to undertake the changes that are being sought by Canadians. 

Seven months ago, I decided to run as a candidate for the NDP in the by-election in Victoria, BC. I did so because I saw an opportunity to build on my lifelong commitment to do what I could to protect our fragile environment.

A chance not only to push back against Stephen Harper's harmful agenda,

Alongside the most talented, committed and hard-working team in the House of Commons...

But also a chance to plan and then to implement the solutions required to save our planet.

The NDP's leadership on the environment has always been a beacon to those of us who have fought to protect our environment and tackle the climate crisis head on.

In fact, one of the reasons I personally decided to run was because I was inspired by Tom Mulcair's principled stand on the environment.

A principled stand that he turned into one of the most important pieces of environmental legislation when he was Quebec's Environment Minister.

Because when Tom Mulcair worked to have his law on sustainable development enacted in Quebec, it became the first law of its kind in all of North America. 

Tom’s law was a very important legal precedent because it amended the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms to entrench a new right, namely, the right of “every person (…) to live in a healthful environment in which biodiversity is preserved, to the extent and according to the standards provided by law”.

As a result, Quebec now has a legal instrument to prevent large polluters from endangering our environment and from imperilling future generations. 

Before entering the House of Commons, I spent my career trying to apply my legal training to protect the pristine nature of British Columbia.

From the fight to save the Sooke Potholes in my community – turning this beautiful area into a park to enjoy for generations to come;

To the daily fights I led as president of the West Coast Environmental Law Association and as a director of the Western Canada Wilderness Committee and as Co-Chair of the UVic Environmental Law Centre:

Arm in arm with the Nisga'a Nation, we went to court to fight again the BC Liberal agenda to stop the Nisga'a Treaty - and we won!

As a treaty negotiator for the NDP government in BC, I was proud to negotiate lasting frameworks to guide our shared destiny with First Nations...

So we can work together to ensure that we save this amazing environment,

And also to ensure that First Nations get their rightful seat at the table,

So together, we create a truly sustainable Canada!

Most recently, I have been heading a legal team for the BC NDP -- fighting to stop the Enbridge pipeline.

A fight that is really about the future of British Columbia and the future of Canada.

The Northern Gateway Pipeline is one of the most wrong-headed proposals to gain the support of the Conservative Government.

A 1,700 km pipeline that would cross 800 streams and rivers, sensitive ecosystems, and many First Nations Territories ...

That would pump 500,000 barrels of raw bitumen a day from Alberta’s oilsands to BC’s pristine yet treacherous north coast ...

Only to be shipped overseas in giant supertankers - each the size of the Eiffel Tower.

The risks it entails are simply unacceptable.

BC's northern coastline is uniquely fragile and ecologically diverse.

Even a modest spill could contaminate this coast for decades.

And given the notoriously hazardous waters off the coast, shipping raw bitumen in 200 supertankers each year, makes oil spills very likely.

A coastal spill or pipeline leak would threaten coastal communities, including 45,000 jobs in the fishery and tourism industries.

We've seen the damage a pipeline leak can cause.

Just ask the folks in Mayflower, Arkansas who saw their neighbourhood flooded with toxic oil a few weeks ago when a pipeline burst.

Or ask the residents in Calhoun County, Michigan, who saw their Kalamazoo River devastated by oil spilled from an Enbridge pipeline – one of the worst inland spills in US history.

And it's still not cleaned up!

British Columbians do not want our precious coastline endangered. We refuse to play Russian roulette with our precious coastline!

Yet Stephen Harper's Conservatives are using every means at their disposal to push the pipeline through.

And what’s worse is that with their omnibus budget last year, the Conservatives have weakened the environmental assessment process for pipelines and large energy projects.   

This Bill gives Conservative ministers the power to approve pipeline construction projects

… Regardless of the results of the environmental assessments. 

And Conservative Cabinet Ministers have dismissed us opponents of the Northern Gateway pipeline as “radicals” backed by “foreign money.”

Well, I am proud to be working alongside my NDP colleagues, taking on Harper's agenda and proposing real solutions.

This is why I signed up to run for the NDP. 

The NDP is the party fighting to protect our navigable waters.

The party raising serious concerns about the Keystone XL pipeline.

The party insisting on really applying the "polluter pay" principle.

And the NDP is the only party that truly cares about the environment – that also in a position to win government!

But it's not just about winning government – it's about what we can do when we form government.

We've seen how Tom turned his tenure as Environment Minister in Quebec into a real win for the environment.

Under his leadership – and with our team of committed MPs full of innovative ideas - we will form a government that puts in place real solutions for the environment.

The 2015 election will truly be the most important election in our history as New Democrats. 

 And it is also a crucial election for future generations. 

The work to win the next election starts now, this weekend. 

Together we can and will form government in 2015!

Let's get to work! Thank you.