T2 stance unchanged: Delta MP

Qualtrough takes heat from port opponents after tough talk in campaign

Delta MP Carla Qualtrough says her position hasn't changed on Terminal 2.

Questions have been raised about the rookie Liberal MP's stance after she voiced concerns during last year's federal election campaign about the proposed three-berth container port at Roberts Bank, which is now at the panel review stage.

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During an all-candidates meeting last fall, Qualtrough described T2 as a disaster waiting to happen, adding there's no compelling business case for it.

"We need a robust environmental assessment process in Canada that wouldn't even let this kind of discussion start happening," she told the forum. "Under a Liberal government, we would look at the cumulative effects of all these different things and that's not happening now."

Fast-forward a year into office and Qualtrough, the minister of sport and persons with disabilities, is being questioned by those opposed to the container terminal project as to why she isn't speaking up.

"This government has had a year to address the industrialization of the river and estuary and has done nothing more than talk about reviewing environmental legislation," said Against Port Expansion's Roger Emsley. "Our MP knows well that many people in this community are very concerned that Roberts Bank - one of the richest ecosystems in North America - will be severely impacted by T2 with changes in water temperature, salinity, stability of wetlands, light and many other factors. If T2 were to go ahead, the risk is that the chain of the Pacific Flyway will be broken," he said.

"The impact on Roberts Bank will be immediate and irreversible. Mitigation will be impossible. Whilst our MLA, Vicki Huntington, has spoken out strongly against T2, our MP for Delta, Carla Qualtrough, has remained silent, despite voicing concerns about T2, its viability and environmental impacts during the 2015 election campaign."

Qualtrough told the Optimist she still has her concerns when it comes to the environmental impacts and is still not convinced there's a solid business case.

"My position on it has pretty much been unchanged for this first year. That's not to say I can't be convinced. The project right now is going through an environmental assessment, a three-member panel that's been appointed by our government. Their results are expected to come out sometime in 2017. Depending on what that says, I may be convinced, I may be satisfied, but right now I'm not prepared to say that I am," she said.

"We have a really, really sensitive estuary and ecosystem that we're dealing with that matters a ton, not only to the people of Delta but to all of B.C. and Canada, and quite frankly, the world. Our estuary is pretty unique. So in that regard, I've not been convinced yet, but I can't say I won't be because I'm going to wait and see what the science says."

The business case, Qualtrough noted, is almost a decade old and things have changed, so an updated case is a good idea to inspire confidence the project is justified.

"I think up-to-date environmental assessment info coupled with an up-todate business case would be really helpful, and certainly that's the message I've taken to both the port and Ottawa. We have to wait and see on the environmental assessment piece, that's the first step as far as I'm concerned. We have to let that process bear out."

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