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Eric’s Thoughts on the Federal Election

I worked in politics for a long time and I know what the ups and downs of election cycles are like from within. They are incredibly energizing at times and painfully hard at other times. By nature, elections have winners and losers. So let me start by sending my deepest gratitude for all those who served us over the last number of years who are retiring (either planned or forced). Public service is a high calling and everyone, without exception, takes it on because they wish to make the world a better place. It doesn’t make defeat any easier.

I would like to thank Mr. Harper for his service over the last nine years as our Prime Minister. We saw many new parks created and others expanded during that time. While we may not have agreed on all matters, we acknowledge the progress made towards our conservation goals.

To those who were elected, congratulations. Despite a long and arduous campaign, the real work now begins – the work of establishing laws, policies and approaches to meet our country’s challenges.

90% of Canada’s land is public. It isn’t owned by individuals, it is managed by governments (provincial, federal and indigenous) for the collective good. 100% of our oceans are publicly owned too. You can’t do large-landscape conservation in Canada without working with governments and elected officials.  You also need to be balanced and help to find creative solutions.  That’s the approach we take at CPAWS.

We’re looking forward to working with the new government. I am pleased to note that they have committed to meeting international goals to protect at least 17% of Canada’s land and 10% of our oceans by 2020. We have a massive gap between where we are today and where we need to be within five years. Only 10% of our land and 1% of our oceans are protected.

See our recent reports on how Canada is faring in protecting our land and seascapes.

And sadly, it isn’t all about quantity either. Our existing marine protected areas are small and allow all sorts of industrial and commercial activities within them. It’s almost embarrassing. See our report on the poor quality of our marine protected areas.

I am also pleased that the Liberals have committed to ‘limiting development’ within our National Parks. This is crucial as we need to change the trend of our parks being nibbled away by commercial development and inappropriate infrastructure. See our reports on recent threats to our National Parks.

As a science-based conservation charity, we will continue to provide governments with advice, assistance and pressure when necessary, so that new large, new protected areas are created and every single one of our precious parks are well-managed. That’s why we were created 52 years ago. That role is just as important today as it was back then.

Today I say, congratulations to Mr. Trudeau and the new Liberal government. We look forward to working with you and all elected officials to advance wilderness conservation in Canada. We have a lot of work to do!