Derelict vessel motion gets unanimous vote [video]

“We’ve got the best chance we’ve had in 10 years to get this done,” Nanaimo Ladysmith MP Sheila Malcolmson

“We’ve got the best chance we’ve had in 10 years to get this done,” Nanaimo Ladysmith MP Sheila Malcolmson said Oct. 27, following Parliament’s unanimous support of a motion to see the federal government move towards action on the tricky problem of derelict vessels.

“It’s great to see there’s unanimous recognition. However the motion really sounds like the ones that the Union of BC Municipalities and local governments have been passing for 15 years,” she said.

Malcolmson has been desperately trying to get action about what she calls “the most egregious example” of a derelict vessel: the Viki Lyne II, which is in her own riding, in Ladysmith harbour.

“From April on, the government has responded to my questions by saying, ‘Wait, We are working on a solution.’ That’s good news. But we still haven’t seen anything concrete from them.

“We are still in the all talk, no action phase,” she said. “In April it sounded imminent and we still haven’t seen anything yet.”

So, she took up the question again, on Friday, Oct. 21.

“I asked again in Question Period, when the government was going to take action legislatively on this problem and the Fisheries Minister [Dominic LeBlanc], who’s responsible for Coast Guard, said ‘very soon’. That was the best news. But still we don’t have anything concrete.

“When that is tabled, that will be cause for celebration. And then there will be checking in with marina operators, First Nations governments, the shellfish growing companies to make sure what’s proposed will actually do the job,” she said.

However, this week a Liberal member from Nova Scotia brought forward a private member’s bill supporting the idea of Malcolmson’s bill, but without any legislation attached to it. That was what got the support of the entire House.

Malcolmson called her own bill, “very close to what [former MP] Jean Crowder had [presented] and which was voted down, mostly opposed by Conservatives.”

She’s not clear why the motion from the Liberals this week didn’t include something binding.

“Just a motion instead of legislation that would be binding is discouraging. But we’re going to keep pushing,” Malcolmson said.

“There are 600 of these vessels across the country. One of my colleagues in Quebec has a hundred foot old fishing boat in a drinking water lake. It’s tilting over to one side and it’s got oil inside it. This is not just about our coast. The problem is all over the country.

“Certainly the government now says they care so we will urge them to put that good intention into action and actually bring forward legislation that would change things on the ground for our communities who have been waiting so long,” she said.