Federal Industry Minister James Moore hit back at criticism of the Canadian Coast Guard's handling of the Vancouver oil spill, saying that it is "highly inappropriate for politicians to point fingers and make political jabs" before all the facts are known.
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Moore was responding to comments made earlier Friday by B.C. Premier Christy Clark and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, who called into question the judgment and effectiveness of the coast guard's emergency response to Wednesday's spill.
"The public expects serious issues to be handled in a serious tone," Moore said.
"I think it is irresponsible for people to dial up anxiety and fear."
Earlier, Robertson had called the response efforts "totally inadequate," while Clark had suggested it might be time to hand over lead responsibility for such emergencies to the province, saying that there would be "no expansion of heavy oil out of this port until we have world-class fuel response. Period."
But Moore called the response to the spill "very impressive," saying that an 80 per cent containment and cleanup within 36 hours had been achieved, and that showed Canadians could have confidence in the protocol.
Moore also said that Canadians could rest assured that the cost of the cleanup operation would not be borne by taxpayers.
"Polluter pays is the law of the land in Canada, " he said. "Those who are responsible will pay."
One of the big issues for the City of Vancouver has been the 12 hours it says it took to be notified about the spill. Roger Girouard, the coast guard assistant commissioner overseeing the operational response, noted that the city's first responders and other city agencies had been notified earlier, and the expectation was that those agencies would pass the information up to the city leadership.
"It's an easy fix," he said, adding that "it will never be an issue again."
Girouard also said that the equipment and expertise held at the recently closed coast guard station at Kitsilano, on English Bay, would have made "not one iota of difference in the response."
He also rejected the mayor's description of the response as "inadequate."
'You do not contain 80 per cent of a spill and call it 'inadequate.'" he said. "I will not accept that definition of my team."