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A Tale of Two Budgets

Yesterday, the Federal Government and the Yukon Government both tabled their budgets for 2013-2014. The federal budget had $4 million in new investments for marine protected areas – an important first step for a program that has been languishing – and for which we have international commitments between now and 2020. Getting to 10% protection from 1% is going to take a lot more than $4 million, however we recognize that this is a start in an era of austerity. We had been looking for $35 million annually. One of our proposed 12 marine protected areas, the Scott Islands in BC, was specifically highlighted in the budget.

Our biggest disappointment was the lack of investment in our National Parks. The resources required to continue creating parks and completing the National Park System were absent. The funds needed to ensure proper scientific monitoring and health of our parks was also missing. A one-time $50 million investment and $20 million in ongoing funding is needed to keep the pace of creating parks. A $10 million investment growing to $50 million annually in five years would be necessary to restore the ecological monitoring that was once a hallmark of Parks Canada.

There was, however, $19 million for road and bridge infrastructure spending in our National Parks, which is welcome given the challenges Parks Canada has to maintain these things.

To see the full suite of recommendations that the Green Budget Coalition made to the government click here.

Another budget was introduced yesterday. This one was in the Yukon. It was particularly crass this year. Not only is there minimal investment in conservation, but the government chose to spend a large amount of time in their speech attacking the work of CPAWS on conservation in that territory. It would appear that the Yukon government is feeling the growing movement to see the Peel watershed protected as a threat to themselves since they’ve staked their reputation on opposing it. And instead of listening to the voices of aboriginals in the Yukon and other citizens who have spoken loud and clear at public consultations and in all recent polls, they’ve decided to attack us.

I’m not a fan of this style of tactic from industry or environmental groups. Attacks like this only belittle the attacker. CPAWS will continue to take the high ground, find ways to speak up for wilderness and work with everyone to protect ecosystems and the species that rely on them. I’m proud of our colleagues in the Yukon who have stood strong in the face of these challenges. They’ve been principled, passionate, but most of all, reasonable.  Maybe the Yukon government could take a lesson in civility from them.

UPDATE: March 26th, 2013 - You can listen to an interview by our Yukon chapter ED in response to the attach from the Yukon government here.