Alistair MacGregor column: Keeping plastic pollution out of our waters

We have lacked a national policy to prevent plastics from entering our country’s waters

By Alistair MacGregor

Canada has one of the longest coastlines in the world. However, unlike many other developed nations, we have lacked a national policy to prevent plastics from entering our country’s waters, and we have no mechanisms in place to clean up the pollution that already exists.

Single-use plastics have become a part of everyday life, and 95 per cent of single-use plastics, such as coffee lids, plastic bags, and plastic drinking straws, are used once and discarded. For years individuals have ignored the flow of plastics into our oceans and waterways. Over time we have come to understand how damaging this is to the health and well-being of our wildlife, sensitive ecosystems, and communities. We have been warned that globally, if this practice goes unchanged, it is projected that by 2050 plastics in our oceans will outweigh fish.

I am proud to announce that on Dec. 5, 2018 my NDP colleague MP Gord Johns’ (Courtenay-Alberni) Private Member’s Motion to combat marine plastics pollution was passed unanimously in the House of Commons. All parties agreed we need to work together to create a national framework for the reduction and eventual elimination of plastic pollution in our aquatic environments.

MP Johns was inspired to act after the Hanjin Marine Debris Spill in November of 2016, when 35 shipping containers broke apart and washed up onto the beaches of the west coast of Vancouver Island. It was volunteers who were left to clean up the mess because of the legislative and regulatory void related to marine plastic pollution in Canada.

This incident drew attention to a problem that is much bigger than this one accident. In Canada, in 2014, it was estimated that only 11 per cent of plastic was recycled and that 8,000 kilograms of our own plastic waste ends up as marine litter every year. Globally, each year more than 20 million tons of debris enters the world’s oceans.

This motion promises to create a permanent, dedicated, and annual funding for community led clean-up projects. It will also reduce consumer and industrial use of single-use plastics. It will create a plan to clean-up derelict fishing gear, as well as promote education and outreach campaigns on the root causes and negative environmental effects of plastic pollution.

The motion draws from recommendations published by the University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Centre in 2017 and was supported by the Union of BC Municipalities, the Federation of BC Municipalities, and West Coast Environmental Law Association, among other organizations.

The unanimous passage of this motion is a tremendous victory for our oceans and coastal communities. I am proud Canada will finally be joining the 40 other counties around the world that have already created strategies to curb plastic use and protect our precious environment for future generations.

Alistair MacGregor is the Member of Parliament for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford.

Just Posted

Robert Barron column: Kudos to hydro crews

It would have been enough work for any hydro crew just to deal with a few houses on one street

Andrea Rondeau column: We are totally dependent on technology

At no time was that quite so apparent as during the massive windstorm on Dec. 20.

T.W. Paterson column: ‘Dull’ Lubbe Lake belies its colourful namesake

“Brilliant scholar” and engineering graduate of Cornell University, was said to be no one’s fool.

Robert scores two as Caps double up Nanaimo

Cowichan knocks off Island rivals 4-2 on Friday night

Students seen mocking Native Americans could face expulsion

One 11-minute video of the confrontation shows the Haka dance and students loudly chanting

Coming up in Cowichan: Anti-pipeline meeting; women’s shelter open house

Public meeting in Duncan to support pipeline protests A public meeting has… Continue reading

May plans next move in Brexit fight as chances rise of delay

Some say a lack of action could trigger a ‘public tsunami’

Group challenges ruling for doctors to give referrals for services that clash with beliefs

A group of five Canadian doctors and three professional organizations is appealing

Major winter storm wreaks havoc on U.S. travel

Nearly 5,000 flights were cancelled Sunday around the country

Want to avoid the speculation tax on your vacant home? Rent it out, Horgan says

Premier John Horgan and Sheila Malcolmson say speculation and vacancy tax addresses homelessness

CONSUMER REPORT: What to buy each month in 2019 to save money

Resolve to buy all of the things you want and need, but pay less money for them

UPDATE: B.C. woman and boy, 6, found safe, RCMP confirm

Roseanne Supernault says both she and her six-year-old nephew are fine and she has contacted police

PHOTOS: Women’s Marches take to the streets across B.C. and beyond

Women and allies marched worldwide protesting violence against women, calling for equality

Most Read