Federal Transportation Minister Marc Garneau is promising a moratorium on crude oil tanker traffic off British Columbia’s North Coast by the end of this year, which would coincide with the government’s cabinet decision on the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.

“That is a promise that we made. It’s a mandate item for me and we are going to be delivering on that,” Garneau told host Chris Hall in an interview airing on CBC Radio’s The House on Saturday morning.

Trudeau ordered a moratorium more than a year ago in his mandate letter to Garneau. The directive asks Garneau to work with the ministers of fisheries and oceans, environment and natural resources.

Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau said the government would pull ideas from the U.S.

Earlier this week, Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau unveiled the government’s transportation plans for the coming decades, while making a speech in Montreal. (CBC News)

Environmental groups have suggested a moratorium off B.C.’s North Coast would kill the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, which would carry bitumen from Alberta to Kitimat, B.C. The project is still recovering from a blow delivered by the Federal Court of Appeal, which overturned Enbridge’s approval because it found Ottawa failed to properly consult the First Nations affected by the pipeline.

Marine safety plan coming too

However, a moratorium could clear the path for the Kinder Morgan project, which could see the transmission of nearly 900,000 barrels a day of diluted oilsands bitumen to Vancouver’s harbour in the south.

Former Kitimat mayor Joanne Monaghan has questioned why a ban would only apply to the northern coast.

“Is there a difference between crude oil being spilled down south and crude oil being spilled in the north?” she told CBC.

Trudeau’s government needs to render a decision on Kinder Morgan by Dec. 19.

Garneau said he’ll also soon have an announcement on improving marine safety.

“We know we need to if we’re going to continue having more shipping traffic,” he said. “On the West Coast, we want to involve Aboriginal coastal nations who want to be involved with the whole issue of marine safety. We also need to look at derelict vessels.”

Privatized airports not guaranteed

Garneau’s comments came on the heels of a speech this week unveiling the government’s transportation plans for the coming decade.

The plan responded to a review conducted by former minister David Emerson, who included privatizing airports among his recommendations.

Garneau says the government is looking at that option, but “it’s not a front-burner exercise.”

“I wouldn’t jump to any conclusions,” Garneau told The House. “Ultimately what we want to do is make sure that whatever we do is in the interest of the traveller, is in the interest of the airports and the airlines themselves.”

Garneau said he’s aware of private airports, but nothing stands out as a successful model.

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