Coast Guard vessels have been based out of Richmond after the Kitsilano Coast Guard base was closed in 2013.

Trudeau directs reopening of Coast Guard base, action on Fraser salmon

Federal ministers get their marching orders from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has formally directed new Fisheries Minister Hunter Tootoo

to reopen the closed Kitsilano Coast Guard base that had become a flashpoint for local criticism of the Harper government.

The Kitsilano base was closed in 2013 – vessels and staff were shifted to Richmond – but pressure from B.C. politicians to reopen it intensified after a slow response earlier this year to a spill of fuel oil from a freighter in English Bay.

Trudeau released his mandate letters outlining the priorities for each new federal cabinet minister Friday.

Those marching orders spell out various reforms to Conservative policies, as well as repeals or amendments to contentious legislation like Bill C-51 and the Fair Elections Act.

Details in the mandates are sparse, however, and for the most part they contain no specific deadlines.

The Liberal promise of admitting 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of the year has shifted to “in the coming months.”

Bolstered environmental protections are pledged, in line with Liberal campaign promises.

Tootoo is to “act on recommendations of the Cohen Commission on restoring sockeye salmon stocks in the Fraser River” and review changes to fishery legislation to “restore lost protections and incorporate modern safeguards.”

He’s also supposed to “use scientific evidence and the precautionary principle, and take into account climate change, when making decisions affecting fish stocks and ecosystem management.”

Natural Resource Minister James Carr gets no specific instructions related to the Northern Gateway or Trans Mountain pipeline proposals.

But Trudeau directs him to modernize the National Energy Board and to immediately review and reform environmental assessment processes to regain public trust.

Northern Gateway is expected to be dead under the Trudeau Liberals and one letter orders the formalization of a moratorium on crude oil tanker traffic off B.C.’s north coast.

Health Minister Jane Philpott’s priorities from the PM include introducing plain packaging requirements for cigarettes and to work with other ministers toward the legalization and regulation of marijuana.

On electoral reform, the minister for democratic institutions is to convene a special committee to consult on options that include preferential ballots, proportional representation, mandatory voting and online voting.

The mandate letters are peppered with references to the need for science-based decisions.

Each minister is also told of the need for meaningful engagement with the Opposition, of constructive dialogue with Canadians and stakeholders including business and labour, and with journalists.

Federal scientists have this month been advised they can speak freely with the media about their research without being vetted and often censored by government communications staff.

Other changes that have already emerged since the Liberal majority election win on Oct. 19 include a halt by Canada Post on its rollout of community mail boxes.

The Cohen inquiry in response to the 2009 collapse of the Fraser sockeye run recommended the federal government alter DFO’s role on aquaculture so it is not simultaneously promoting and regulating salmon farms.

It also recommended salmon farms along the Johnstone Strait migration route be shut down by 2020 unless it can be scientifically proven that the risk to wild salmon from aquaculture is minimal.

Craig Orr, conservation adviser for Watershed Watch Salmon Society, said he wants to see what the Liberals actually deliver, but added hopes are high.

“Many of us feel like we’ve been in a deep dark trench for the last 10 years on environmental protection.”

Just Posted

Four years for manslaughter in Surrey drive-by shooting

Mahdi Halane was rendered a quadriplegic until his death in hospital six years later at age 24.

Author at Surrey event glad to have book published ‘before reality totally overtakes fiction’

Ari Goelman, a business and criminology instructor, speaks at KPU Reads gathering Jan. 22

Cloverdale banker shares his love of swing dancing

Cloverdale’s Phillip Kunz shows dancing newcomers how to get into the swing of things

White Rock cannabis and adult entertainment bylaws to move to public hearings

Council will seek input on potential of allowing contentious businesses in city limits

SURREY EVENTS GUIDE for Jan. 17 and beyond

Plays, concerts, fundraisers and more in our weekly guide for Surrey and area

VIDEO: Orcas put on a show near Hornby Island

Louis Jobodin shares photos and video of his experience

Body discovered in burnt out car near Trail

Police report a body was found in the burnt out trunk of a 1999 Honda Civic

VIDEO: B.C. Lions sign defensive back T.J. Lee to contract for upcoming season

The four-year veteran had a team-high four interceptions and 49 tackles last season with B.C.

How an immigrant to Canada helped Donald Trump prove his mental health

Test that cleared Trump was developed by doctor associated with McGill and Sherbrooke universities

Premier touches on multiple topics ahead of Asia trade trip

Housing and childcare are expected to be the focus of the BC NDP’s first budget in February.

UPDATE: Friends mourn boy, 15, killed in Vancouver shooting

John Horgan: ‘No stone is to be left unturned until we find the perpetrator of this heinous crime’

VIDEO: Explorers uncover Canada’s deepest cave in Fernie

The cave, named Bisaro Anima, was confirmed to have broken the record on New Year’s Day

Vernon to host largest Special Olympics B.C. Winter Games in 2019

Games to be held Feb. 21-23, with more than 800 athletes expected to take part

Ex-BC Liberal staffer focused on ‘favourable’ ethnic communities in scandal: lawyer

Former communications director Brian Bonney’s sentencing hearing for breach of trust is underway

Most Read