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PC Caucus News

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Georges Bank - Hansard

Excerpt from Proceedings from the  Sixty-first General Assembly, Second session Wednesday April 28, 2010.  Also found on page 1558.  The plight of NoRigs2010.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, it's my honour to stand to speak a few moments to this resolution. I want to thank the Liberal Party for bringing this one forward. The minister spoke very well of the true nature of this situation. He said it's going to be a very emotional issue.

Mr. Speaker, I can assure him it is going to be an extremely emotional issue in southwestern Nova Scotia. I know that as we get closer to it, and I'm starting to hear it today, and have been hearing it for a number of years now, are we going to extend the moratorium on Georges Bank? The member for Digby-Annapolis spoke very well of what Georges Bank is. Georges Bank is a wondrous place of what it can do and what it has provided to generations of Nova Scotians. The fishing villages that dot our coasts for the last 100 years or more have depended on the riches of Georges Bank for their livelihood. Even today communities all through southwestern Nova Scotia, whether it is the Pubnicos, the Wedgeports, Long and Brier Islands, the Meteghans and Saulniervilles, Woods Harbour, Shag Harbour - these all depend solely on the riches on Georges Bank.

Now this has been an issue that has been floating around since the 1980s, when Texaco first expressed their interest in drilling, looking at the resource, seeing what is on Georges. There are a number of tapes, there was some initial seismic done but Mr. Speaker, even today we cannot be certain what is on Georges Bank. Is it some light crude? Is it some heavy crude? Is it gas? Is it nothing at all?
What seismic does is, it will show where there is a possibility of salt dome, where it will look at the geology of the area to see if there's a capability to hold hydrocarbons at the bottom of the ocean. So, Mr. Speaker, we don't know today what could possibly be on Georges Bank. Which brings me to this issue - we can look at the tapes, we can look at the information that we do have but what is going to happen is that there are going to be companies that are going to make requests to do further seismic work on Georges Bank.
Now, Mr. Speaker, here is where the science gets fuzzy. As we know, when we get fuzzy science, people can play either side of that information. The fuzzy science is that we don't know the effect of seismic work on fish stocks. We don't know, the scientists will tell you they don't know. Does it affect them? Does it affect the young? Does it affect crustaceans? Does it affect finfish? We don't know. I would ask the minister to find a scientist who would dare say one way or another, or not counteract the information that another scientist has brought up.

I can say from the work when I was Minister of Fisheries, that work that was happening off Cape Breton and the science work that we had them do at that time, it was a stalemate - well, we think there might be, in fact, but we're not sure. Is that good enough for the coastal communities of southwestern Nova Scotia?

I would say to you, Mr. Speaker, no, it is not. That is just the seismic part of oil exploration, not to say if that should go forward, should we find a hydrocarbon there and we put up a rig. Now I've said before that this is a wondrous place but it is not super large. I would say that should we get to that point maybe there will be one rig there, maybe there will be two but the risk of that rig is too great.
They said in the Gulf of Mexico, ah, there will never be a disaster. It is too safe, the technology is too good, look at what we have. Well, I think we proved them wrong - I don't say "we" but I mean it was proved wrong. There was a humongous disaster just last week. I forget the name of the rig that basically blew up and sank to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. There are millions of litres of oil now bubbling up from the bottom of the ocean, through the drill hole that was there.

Where would that end up, Mr. Speaker? It would be a disaster far beyond anything we've seen before and Nova Scotia has seen a number of disasters in oil rigs, oil tankers going ashore and cleanups having to happen, but they've been localized. They have been in bays and we have been able to clean them up. I know today, even out - I forget the name of the point just off of Halifax here and I forget the name of the boat that actually sank off there, but there still today you can find hunks of oil drifting on the beach, or you can dig and you can find it. It's still (Interruption) The Arrow, that's right. Thank you to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture for that one.

The point I'm trying to make is there's nothing that's 100 per cent, and the people of southwestern Nova Scotia - the people in my riding, the people who depend on the fishery for their livelihood - will not accept anything but 100 per cent. The science might say it's 50 per cent - you know, there's a 50-50 chance or there's an 80-20 chance or a 90-10 or a 99.9 per cent chance it will never happen. A 1 per cent is still too much. It's still too much for the wondrous gift we have in Nova Scotia that is Georges Bank.

I know that there is science to do, but I think the inevitable is still upon us. We are going to expend a lot of time, hundreds of thousands of dollars, I would probably guess, to come to the conclusion that I think all of us know in our hearts. I hear it from the people from one end of this province to another - it is too great to jeopardize the future of Georges Bank with the possibility of another oil boom. I don't think it's there, I don't think we should jeopardize it, and I think we should just do the right thing and extend the moratorium on Georges Bank. Thank you very much.