Editorial: This is spill response?

Tanker safety press event fails to inspire confidence after response vessel runs into difficulty.

Well. If this isn’t the height of irony.

When Federal Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver appeared last week at the Port of Vancouver to roll out the government’s proposed new tanker safety program, he came with B.C.’s largest marine spill response ship in tow.

But the ship nearly needed a tow of its own after running aground on a sand bar en route to its appearance as a backdrop for Oliver’s waterfront press event.

So, this is supposed to assure us of the government’s readiness to swiftly deal with an oil tanker spill along the B.C. coast?

Frankly, even before this nautical faux pas we were less than impressed.

Coming just as hearings into the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline project are wrapping up, the government’s “plan” comes off as a ham-handed and transparent ploy to blunt opposition to the pipeline.

Pleading poverty, the government shut down the Kitsilano Coast Guard base and has plans to close marine communications and traffic services stations in Comox and Campbell River.

And now that same government has $120 million laying around to toss at a “world class” response regime whose primary beneficiary appears to be the oil export industry?

Canada and B.C. can do better.

This plan deserves to be left high and dry.