Trudeau directs reopening of Coast Guard base, action on Fraser salmon

Federal ministers get their marching orders from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has formally directed new Fisheries Minister Hunter Tootoo

to reopen the closed Kitsilano Coast Guard base that had become a flashpoint for local criticism of the Harper government.

The Kitsilano base was closed in 2013 – vessels and staff were shifted to Richmond – but pressure from B.C. politicians to reopen it intensified after a slow response earlier this year to a spill of fuel oil from a freighter in English Bay.

Trudeau released his mandate letters outlining the priorities for each new federal cabinet minister Friday.

Those marching orders spell out various reforms to Conservative policies, as well as repeals or amendments to contentious legislation like Bill C-51 and the Fair Elections Act.

Details in the mandates are sparse, however, and for the most part they contain no specific deadlines.

The Liberal promise of admitting 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of the year has shifted to “in the coming months.”

Bolstered environmental protections are pledged, in line with Liberal campaign promises.

Tootoo is to “act on recommendations of the Cohen Commission on restoring sockeye salmon stocks in the Fraser River” and review changes to fishery legislation to “restore lost protections and incorporate modern safeguards.”

He’s also supposed to “use scientific evidence and the precautionary principle, and take into account climate change, when making decisions affecting fish stocks and ecosystem management.”

Natural Resource Minister James Carr gets no specific instructions related to the Northern Gateway or Trans Mountain pipeline proposals.

But Trudeau directs him to modernize the National Energy Board and to immediately review and reform environmental assessment processes to regain public trust.

Northern Gateway is expected to be dead under the Trudeau Liberals and one letter orders the formalization of a moratorium on crude oil tanker traffic off B.C.’s north coast.

Health Minister Jane Philpott’s priorities from the PM include introducing plain packaging requirements for cigarettes and to work with other ministers toward the legalization and regulation of marijuana.

On electoral reform, the minister for democratic institutions is to convene a special committee to consult on options that include preferential ballots, proportional representation, mandatory voting and online voting.

The mandate letters are peppered with references to the need for science-based decisions.

Each minister is also told of the need for meaningful engagement with the Opposition, of constructive dialogue with Canadians and stakeholders including business and labour, and with journalists.

Federal scientists have this month been advised they can speak freely with the media about their research without being vetted and often censored by government communications staff.

Other changes that have already emerged since the Liberal majority election win on Oct. 19 include a halt by Canada Post on its rollout of community mail boxes.

The Cohen inquiry in response to the 2009 collapse of the Fraser sockeye run recommended the federal government alter DFO’s role on aquaculture so it is not simultaneously promoting and regulating salmon farms.

It also recommended salmon farms along the Johnstone Strait migration route be shut down by 2020 unless it can be scientifically proven that the risk to wild salmon from aquaculture is minimal.

Craig Orr, conservation adviser for Watershed Watch Salmon Society, said he wants to see what the Liberals actually deliver, but added hopes are high.

“Many of us feel like we’ve been in a deep dark trench for the last 10 years on environmental protection.”

Just Posted

Crashes pile up as snow blankets Surrey

Up to 10 centimetres of snow is in the forecast

How much does your city spend per person on snow removal?

Black Press Media compares 2018 ice and snow removal budgets of various Lower Mainland communities

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

Surrey pastor in concert with songs from her new ‘Psalms for a Peaceful Heart’ CD

‘Incredible’ church sanctuary in Whalley a stage for Lori-Anne Boutin-Crawford’s music

Plan to redevelop former Surrey motel site too dense, says Coun. Pettigrew

Pettigrew: ‘We need to build liveable community with green spaces… not massive zones that are densified’

VIDEO: 8 things you need to know about the 2019 B.C. budget

Surplus of $247 million with spending on children, affordability and infrastructure

Ex-Langley spiritual leader cleared of stock trading allegations

Investors allegedly lost $740,000 investing through a local religious organization.

‘Bullet missed me by an inch’: Man recounts friend’s killing at Kamloops hotel

Penticton man witnessed Summerland resident Rex Gill’s murder in Kamloops

B.C. BUDGET: Income assistance raise still leaves many below poverty line

$50 per month increase included in funding for poverty and homelessness reduction

B.C. BUDGET: Indigenous communities promised billions from gambling

Extended family caregiver pay up 75 per cent to keep kids with relatives

B.C. BUDGET: New benefit increases family tax credits up to 96 per cent

BC Child Opportunity Benefit part of province’s efforts to reduce child poverty

B.C. BUDGET: Carbon tax boosts low-income credits, electric vehicle subsidies

Homeowners can get up to $14,000 for heating, insulation upgrades

B.C. man survives heart attack thanks to Facebook

A Princeton man suffered a heart attack while at an isolated property with no cell service

Abbotsford man sues Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party over trademark

Satinder Dhillon filed application for trademark same day Maxime Bernier announced the new party

Most Read