At first glance, Prince George – Peace River Member of Parliament Jay Hill’s timing seems a little off.
But perhaps the time couldn’t be more opportune.
With a Petro-Canada oil rig spewing upwards of a 1,000 barrels of oil into the North Atlantic off New Foundland’s Grand Banks, some might think the pro-exploration folks in British Columbia would be keeping mum until it all blew over. But Mr. Hill, in his tireless crusade for the common working folk of Northern B.C. chose this week to lobby the federal government to lift the current moratorium.
Instead of shying away from the spill that’s making headlines, he makes the point that exploration needs to go forward, but with all the necessary safeguards and systems in place to deal with spills when they occur. And Mr. Hill knows they will occur. His position of proceeding in a prudent and environmentally respectful way is right on the mark.
It’s a point we’ve made in this space before.
The pro-moratorium side seems to always come back to what they would call the special qualities of our coast as a rationale for prolonging the ban. But surely our coast, it’s geography and flora and fauna are no more special, in an empirical sense, than that of many places where offshore drilling is already taking place.
And indeed it seems that Petro-Canada is doing everything possible to react to the spill with the highest standards, tracking the spill with satellite and other technologies, deploying floating absorbent booms and searching for affected wildlife from the air and on the water. Its philosophy of learning as much as possible from this incident and taking whatever actions necessary to prevent future incidents should be a credo for all exploration and seems right in line with Mr. Hill’s proposal.
If Mr. Hill’s vision includes responsible offshore oil and gas development as a means of ending both our poor cousin relationship with Alberta, and the cyclical boom and bust nature of mining and forestry, he has our full support.