CONSERVATIVE MP John Weston spoke to West Vancouver council Monday on the topic of oil pipelines, the federal government's decision to cut diplomatic ties with Iran and National Fitness Day.
"We stand as a government behind Iranian people whether they're in Iran or in Canada," Weston said, speaking the phrase in Farsi as well as English.
Weston, the MP for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country as well as the government liaison for the Persian/Iranian community, said the government decided to close its embassy due to the Iranian government's human rights violations and its support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
"It's the record of the government of Iran that our government takes issue with," Weston said.
The safety of Canada's diplomats was also a factor in the decision, according to Weston.
"Ironically it's one of the least secure embassies that we have overseas in a country where security is certainly a major issue."
The decision to close the embassy has been criticized by some members of the Iranian Canadian community as a hard-line move that is out of step with European countries as well as the United States.
Weston thanked the West Vancouver council for opposing Kinder Morgan's $4.1-billion plan to expand its Trans Mountain oil pipeline.
The council voted to send a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper articulating its position that the increased tanker traffic in Burrard Inlet would jeopardize the environment.
A few councillors based their opposition on the federal government's environmental record, with Coun. Craig Cameron criticizing the government's reduction of environmental regulations.
"It really helps me when you provide me ammunition like this," Weston said. "The federal government understands the sacredness of our riverways and our lakes because British Columbians make our voices known."
Weston fielded questions from Coun. Bill Soprovich about the federal government's priorities.
"Is your government more on the side of Canada's economic investment than the environment?" Soprovich asked.
The economy and the environment enjoy a symbiotic relationship, according to Weston.
"Contrary to what has been portrayed in the media there's not an endorsement of any specific company or any specific project," Weston said. "There's certainly an emphasis on diversification of our markets, there's certainly an emphasis on creating jobs and stimulating the economy, but that has to be done in conjunction with good stewardship of the environment."
Cameron asked the MP about federal funding for the Lions Gate Secondary Wastewater Treatment Plant, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of the decade.
A secondary treatment plant uses a biological process to remove about 90 per cent of dissolved material from liquid waste.
"The cost of that is upwards of $400 million, which is obviously something that the residents of the North Shore can't really feasibly bear by themselves," Cameron said.
Weston said he would be meeting with Mayor Michael Smith to develop a strategy to pay for the plant.
"It has to be done and its cost is staggering," said Weston.
Weston also thanked the council for supporting the creation of National Health and Fitness Day.
To counteract the sedentary lifestyle of a large number of Canadians, Weston is calling on municipal governments to allow residents free entry or a discounted fee at gyms and recreation facilities on the first Saturday of June.
Weston said he is planning to introduce a bill into Parliament on Sept. 24 that would create the nationwide fitness day and thanked council for endorsing the concept.