Open letter to Premier Williams, Ministers Shea and Prentice
The Hon. Danny Williams, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador
Office of the Premier, Confederation Bldg, St. John’s NL
The Hon. Jim Prentice, Minister of the Environment House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario
The Hon Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario
Re: Gulf of St. Lawrence Oil and Gas regulatory regime
Dear Mr. Williams, Mr. Prentice and Ms. Shea:
Recently, an exploration license was issued by the Canada Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board for the ‘Old Harry’ oil and gas prospect in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. This has caused anxiety and despair, but also mobilization of citizens from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, Quebec and the Magdalen Islands.
Six and a half times smaller than the Gulf of Mexico, the Gulf of St. Lawrence is a fragile, landlocked, semi-enclosed body of water that completely exchanges its water with the Atlantic Ocean only once a year. In 1973, Dr. Loutfi of McGill University described it as the most productive marine region in Canada that should never be placed in harm’s way. According to him, because of its circular, counterclockwise currents, any oil and gas contamination would be widespread along the Gulf coastlines of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador.
As it stands now, the Right whale, Blue whale, leatherback turtle, piping plover and harlequin duck are endangered; while Atlantic salmon, cod, fin whale, and humpback whale are in trouble – a disgraceful indicator that in only fifty years, our generation has taken for granted and degraded our Gulf’s natural, renewable resources. We have allowed unfettered industrial development and pollution with little regard for the precautionary principle and ecosystem approaches demanded by the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity.