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Off to the Hill…again!

I’m off to “the Hill” again today, just a few short weeks after CPAWS’ team from across the country met with over 50 MPs and Senators during our annual “Parliamentary Lobby Day”  This time I’m joining colleagues from other national environmental and conservation groups as part of a Green Budget Coalition delegation. Over the next two days, we’ll meet with the Department of Finance, the Prime Minister’s office and the Privy Council Office, as well as with MPs and Ministers to deliver our recommendations for next year’s federal budget.

Each year for over a decade, the Green Budget Coalition has developed in-depth budget recommendations related to nature conservation, energy efficiency and climate change, reducing harmful subsidies, water, toxics and other important environmental issues. For CPAWS, the GBC, as we call it, offers a chance to champion federal investment in national parks, healthy oceans, species at risk and other areas of federal responsibility related to the work we do to conserve Canada’s public land and water.

Over the years we’ve had some significant successes.  We’ve advocated for and secured increased funding for national parks, marine protected areas, various conservation initiatives, and implementing the Species at Risk Act. This, in turn, has supported the protection of vast areas of wilderness, including the expansion of the iconic Nahanni National Park Reserve, and the creation of Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area, just to name a few.

In the wake of massive federal budget cuts to Parks Canada and other departments, I sometimes wonder if it’s worth putting any effort into the federal budget this year. But I’ve concluded that it’s more important than ever that we bring a strong voice for nature to these discussions, and continue to highlight the enormous environmental, economic and social values of investing in conservation. Decision-makers need to understand that conservation is not an expense; it’s an investment in our shared future, and that of our grandchildren.

This year, our GBC nature conservation recommendation highlights the proposed National Conservation Plan for Canada, which the federal government committed to developing in the last Speech from the Throne. We’re urging the feds to step up and grasp Canada’s unique and globally significant opportunity to conserve nature by leading a collaborative effort to scale up conservation work across the country, including completing a network of protected areas on land and sea.

For the 2013 budget, we’re recommending an immediate re-investment in national parks, healthy oceans, and the conservation of migratory birds. You can read our full recommendations document here. For more information on CPAWS' recommendations for a National Conservation Plan you can check out our submissions to the House of Commons Environment Committee earlier this year.