Coast Guard vessels have been based out of Richmond after the Kitsilano Coast Guard base was closed in 2013.

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

Proudly Surrey modifies child-care policy

Slate wants to use school board property for child-care spaces

Surrey school board wants to expand French Immersion program

District had to close program at Cougar Creek Elementary due to low enrolment

VIDEO: Scarecrow festival kicks off in Port Kells

Fourth-annual event will be on until Halloween

VIDEO: Vancouver Giants earn a 3-1 victory over Everett in season-opener in Langley

Langley’s major junior hockey team opened the season at home with a victory over the Silvertips.

VIDEO: North Delta Studio Stomp back for sixth year

The annual art event has local artists opening their studios to the public this weekend

Remainder of Vancouver Whitecaps season filled with ‘must-win’ games: coach

With Vancouver currently sitting four points out of a post-season spot, each contest is crucial

VIDEO: B.C.-born firefighter remembered by MP in emotional speech

Family asks first responders to look after one another in wake of suicide, growing concerns of PTSD

Airline has ‘close call’ with drone while en route to B.C. airport

Jazz Aviation reported the drone sighting near Vancouver to the RCMP and Transport Canada

Tragic accident claims life of B.C. toddler

Fundraising effort has been created to help mom and family

B.C. nanny charged with sex abuse of 3 children

Saanich Police seek potential victims of Johnathon Lee Robichaud from Central Saanich

‘I’m no quitter’ on climate change issues, McKenna says at G7 ministers meeting

David Suzuki says if McKenna believes what she’s saying, she too should quit

Free vet clinic caters to pets of homeless, low income owners in Lower Mainland

The first such clinic in Langley will take place later this month.

VIDEO: Inside an eerily empty mall in Canada

Only nine of 517 retail spaces are open for business as the grand opening postponed to next year

Most Read