Marine panel to speak

An all-star lineup will close out the first Speaker’s Corner series Monday evening.

PORT McNEILL—An all-star lineup will close out the first Speaker’s Corner series Monday evening in a discussion that takes on added significance in the wake of the Harper Government’s approval of the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, said series co-founder Wade Allen.

Dr. Paul Spong and Helena Symonds of OrcaLab, wild salmon activist Alexandra Morton, Marine Detective Jackie Hildering, and Christie McMillan and Jared Towers of the Marine Education and Research Society will speak to Marine Matters of Northern Vancouver Island — Past, Present and Future — in an interactive panel beginning at 7 p.m. June 20 at St. John Gualbert (A-Frame) Church in Port McNeill.

“Why bother?” Allen, Anglican United pastor for North Vancouver Island, asked rhetorically. “I believe we have a responsibility to the future. I would go to this because I’m hoping to have grandchildren some day, and I care about the world I’m leaving them.”

Speaker’s Corner is a secular, free monthly forum designed to expose North Island residents to experts in fields of cultural, social and economic importance in the region. Several of next week’s panel participants — including Spong and Symonds, Morton and Hildering, have appeared individually in the first season of the once-a-month series, which began last fall.

Their discussion next week is expected to highlight the benefits of and risks facing the marine environment — including the possibility of dramatically increased tanker traffic — off North Vancouver Island and beyond. They may well also outline steps that might be taken to preserve and protect for future generations the resources that provide food, tourism and cultural significance to local populations.

“People have said we should cancel this because July 1 is the next day,” said Allen. “But Canada Day is a good reason to do this. This is our country, we’ve got some high-powered people here, and we want to honour their experience and knowledge.

“What are the chances of getting these people together again?”