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Leaders respond to CPAWS’ election primer


We sent our 2008 Election Primer questions to all 5 parties.  Four of the parties responded.  Here are their answers.

  1. Do you support the vision of protecting at least half of Canada’s public land and water?
  2. Will you commit to protecting the Boreal caribou’s habitat as required under the Species At Risk Act?
  3. Will you commit to taking measures to protect wilderness as part Canada’s climate change strategy? For example, Will you say no to logging forests for energy?
  4. Will you ensure that Canada is accountable internationally for  emissions from the destruction of our forests?
  5. Will you make new parks establishment a priority, starting by completing the expansion of Nahanni National Park Reserve?
  6. Will you accelerate progress in establishing a marine protected areas network?
  7. Will you work with other organizations in the Northwest Territories to fully implement a plan for land use, including protected areas, before allowing major industrial developments like the Mackenzie Gas Project to proceed?

 1. Do you support the vision of protecting at least half of Canada’s public land and water?

Bloc Québecois:
(French only)
Soyons clairs : les ressources hydriques, à l’exception des eaux limitrophes, sont de la compétence du Québec. Et la Québec n’a pas attendu. Il a déjà pris des actions depuis un bon moment, notamment en 2002 avec la Politique nationale de l’eau, pour en assurer la qualité et la disponibilité.

Or, il est loin d’être clair que les accords commerciaux, particulièrement l’ALÉNA, laissent au Québec la pleine liberté de protéger ses ressources en eau. C’est donc au tour du gouvernement fédéral d’agir, avant que les pénuries d’eau aux États-Unis ne soient trop criantes, et d’entreprendre des discussions avec les Américains et les Mexicains pour exclure l’eau de la portée de l’ALÉNA. Surtout que la solution est simple : un accord par échange de lettre entre les gouvernements du Canada, des États-Unis et du Mexique précisant que l’eau n’est pas couverte par l’ALÉNA devrait être respecté par les tribunaux internationaux comme s’il faisait partie intégrante de l’ALÉNA.

Il serait complètement irresponsable d’attendre que le gouvernement américain conteste la loi québécoise pour agir.

Conservative Party:
(No answer received)

Green Party:
Yes, the Green Party of Canada will work within the Canadian Boreal Initiative’s corporate, First Nation and conservation framework, to ensure that at least half of Canada’s boreal forest is protected, while all is maintained in a state of ecological integrity. Its value as a carbon reservoir will far outweigh short-term economic gains.  We will also advocate for the purchase of private land, where necessary, to help protect critical habitats especially of endangered species.

Liberal Party:
To protect Canada’s ecosystems in the face of climate change, pollution and over-use, a Liberal government will develop a National Ecosystem Stewardship Strategy for Canada, which will be science-based, and will respond to the increasing pressures on our natural surroundings. Our goal will be to protect a minimum of 50 per cent of Canada’s intact wilderness areas by creating interconnected networks of protected areas, and ensuring that resource development on other parts of the landscape is carried out in accordance with the highest environmental standards.

A Liberal government will make Canada an international role model for ecological
conservation by establishing a network of National Parks and protected areas. This
network will include new national parks to protect a representative sample of each of
Canada’s 39 distinct natural landscapes, beginning in the North. We will also  establish much-needed national wildlife areas, migratory bird sanctuaries, and marine conservation areas.

As we implement this strategy, we will affirm ecological integrity as an essential priority in their management, working in partnership with provincial and territorial governments in a partnership. We will ensure that these networks of protected areas are planned within larger landscapes, with the involvement of interested communities, to take into account their ecological, social and economic value.

To safeguard the Canadian Boreal Forest as one of the largest intact forest and wetland ecosystems remaining on earth, we will work with the provinces and territories to implement a conservation framework that preserves at least half of the Boreal in protected areas, and allows only carefully managed development on the rest.

New Democratic Party:
New Democrats are committed to working in collaboration with provinces, territories and First Nations to work toward a model of sustainable forest management in Canada’s boreal forests. This will include establishing appropriate protected areas, and developing and promoting a forest stewardship program that will sustain our boreal forests and our forest industries, with input from stakeholders. We will establish the Environment Commissioner as a separate and independent Officer of Parliament to provide effective oversight of the government’s environmental performance.

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2. Will you commit to protecting the Boreal caribou’s habitat as required under the Species at Risk Act?

Bloc Québecois:
Le principe de protéger davantage les espèces menacées est, en lui-même, un principe que le Bloc Québécois défend fermement. Toutefois, nous ne croyons pas que la Loi sur les espèces en péril puisse permettre d’améliorer la protection des espèces menacées. En fait, nous estimons qu’elle constitue une intrusion dans de nombreux champs de compétence du Québec dont un chevauchement direct avec la Loi sur les espèces menacées ou vulnérables en vigueur depuis 1989 au Québec.

Le Bloc Québécois note aussi que la Loi sur les espèces en péril du Canada promettait de protéger les espèces les plus vulnérables. Or certaines des espèces les plus gravement menacées ont été exclues de toute protection. Le Bloc Québécois estime que la désignation des espèces menacées doit être effectuée en premier lieu sur la base de critères scientifiques. Le Bloc Québécois  croit que le processus visant à établir la liste des espèces en péril devrait se dérouler dans le cadre législatif des lois québécoises en la matière.

Conservative Party:
(No answer received)

Green Party:
The Green Party believes in the conservation of species diversity as an essential part of a healthy environment. The Green Party therefore plans to strengthen the Species at Risk Act (SARA) and make it an effective tool that actually protects endangered species such as the Boreal caribou, and their habitats everywhere in Canada including all federal, provincial, territorial, First Nations and private lands.

Green Party MPs will:

  • Amend the Species at Risk Act (SARA) to:
  • Ensure that listing under the Species at Risk Act is based on scientific, and not political, processes.  COSEWIC’s determination would be the actual legal listing.  Cabinet approval would be removed;
  • Ensure that recovery-planning efforts identify and then appropriately manage, protect and/or restore the habitat that species need to recover, through consultative, collaborative efforts with stakeholders, land-owners, provinces, municipalities, and First Nations governments; and,
  • Ensure that it is a criminal offence, made punishable as a mens rea offence, to kill a listed species, regardless of whether the offence occurred on federal or provincial land. 

Liberal Party:
The Conservative government is failing to properly protect species at risk of extinction. Habitat protection is instrumental to species survival, yet the Conservative’s have refused to even identify endangered species’ habitat, despite a clear requirement in the Species at Risk Act to do so, instead forcing community groups to take them to court to enforce federal law.

A new Liberal government will ensure the timely mapping and protection of habitat for species listed under the Species at Risk Act, and will create a special “fast track” for protecting endangered or threatened species that rely on seasonal ice.

New Democratic Party:
As stated in the answer to question one, New Democrats are committed to sustainable forest management in Canada’s boreal forests. As part of this commitment, a New Democrat government would improve endangered species protection, including habitat protection, for all endangered species.

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3. Will you make new parks establishment a priority, starting by completing the expansion of Nahanni National Park Reserve?

Bloc Québecois:
Pour ce qui est de l’établissement d’aires protégés, le Bloc Québécois note que le Québec compte plus de 1800 sites naturels qui répondent à la définition d’une aire protégée. L’ensemble de ces milieux naturels sont réglementés et gérés en fonction de 22 désignations juridiques ou administratives différentes. En mai 2008, le gouvernement du Québec a annoncé la création de 23 nouvelles aires protégées permettant d’atteindre t 6 % de la superficie du Québec en aires protégées plaçant ainsi le Québec au 2e rang des provinces canadiennes.

Le Québec s’est doté d’une procédure de consultation très structurée auprès de nombreux intervenants qui ont pu participer à l’identification des territoires à protéger. Nous croyons que l’atteinte de notre objectif commun  -augmenter la superficie des habitats protégés- se fera plus rapidement si le gouvernement fédéral se contentait d’accompagner le gouvernement du Québec dans l’organisation de son territoire. 

Conservative Party:
(No answer received)

Green Party:
Canada is not doing enough to ensure that the various mining, mineral, oil and gas explorations activities around Nahanni National Park, located in the southwest corner of the Northwest Territories, not be allowed to erode the ecological integrity of the park.The Green Party is committed to reversing the disappointing recent trend of the federal government to devaluate park protection. We must provide Parks Canada with the funding necessary to protect the ecological integrity of Canada\'s National Parks. Furthermore, a Green government would take firm and unwavering action to protect existing parks and expand our terrestrial and marine park system. This includes completing the expansion of the Nahanni National Park Reserve.

Liberal Party:
See answer to question #1.

New Democratic Party:
The New Democrats are committed to a parks and wilderness plan that reflects Canadians’ strong commitment to preserve our natural heritage. As part of this plan, we have committed to completing the national parks system. The Nahanni watershed is one of the most unique in Canada and its protection through the completion of the expansion of the Nahanni National Park Reserve would be a
priority of a New Democrat government.

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4. Will you commit to taking measures to protect wilderness as part Canada’s climate change strategy? For example, will you say no to logging forests for energy?

Bloc Québecois:
Le Bloc Québécois est d’avis que la biomasse forestière est une source d’énergie alternative intéressante, mais croit qu’elle devrait essentiellement se concentrer à transformer les résidus de coupe.

Conservative Party:
(No answer received)

Green Party:
The Green Party understands that forests are the foundation of complex ecological systems performing important services that purify our air and water, prevent floods and erosion and stabilize our climate. Two-thirds of Canada’s plant and animal species live in forests. Large expanses of forest, especially old growth forests, must remain intact to maintain natural habitats and biodiversity.

The forest products sector is a little known climate change success story. It has not only achieved its Kyoto greenhouse gas reductions target, it has exceeded that target by a factor of seven. The Green Party government will support its claim for credit. Meanwhile, all forest companies will pay a carbon tax to reflect the net loss of carbon storage from their lands or they will get a rebate to reflect net gain of carbon sinks, based on an independent audit every five years.

Green Party MPs will work to:

  • Renegotiate trade agreements so that Canada has the power to encourage more domestic value-added manufacturing by restricting the export of raw logs with a substantial whole log export tax.
  •  Within the on-going Forest Accord process and in partnership with the provincial and territorial governments who have primary jurisdiction, shift all economic forests to eco-forestry practices, including certification by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
  • With the provinces, First Nations and the logging industry, devise incentives that promote the use of single stem selection logging and longer rotations that conserve natural forest ecosystems.
  • Achieve the 2003 Boreal Forest Conservation Framework’s goal of protecting at least half of Canada’s Boreal Forest in a network of large interconnected protected areas and instituting state-of-the-art ecosystem based management and stewardship on the remaining landscape.
  • Provide more federal funding to research the best way to harvest pine beetle wood, while leaving unaffected trees, and to mitigate the economic impact of the pine beetle epidemic.
  • Develop a Genuine Forest Health Indicator (GFHI) that assesses the state of the forests every decade and measures changes in all forest values, including those that mitigate climate change directly or indirectly.
  • Promote hemp and agricultural cellulose wood waste as sources of paper fibre to reduce the pressure on standing forests.
  • Give FSC certified forest companies a full five-year full tax break upon certification.

Liberal Party:
The Liberal Party is deeply committed to protecting Canada’s wilderness, and will not allow economic development in an area unless it can be shown that the environment is protected, and plans meet the test of sustainable development. This is why we are committed to protecting at least 50 percent of Canada’s intact wilderness areas. For more information, see the answer to question #1.

New Democratic Party:
As part of the New Democrat plan for Fighting Pollution and Protecting Our Natural Heritage, which is part of our overall strategy for dealing with climate change, we are committed to Ensuring that the integrity of parks and protected areas is not compromised by industrial activity or inappropriate development. New Democrats will also improve and enforce appropriate federal regulation of all environmental impacts – air, water, land, fish and wildlife – that arise from the exploitation of Canada’s oil and gas reserves.

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5. Will you ensure that Canada is accountable internationally for emissions from the destruction of our forests?

Bloc Québecois:
Le Bloc Québécois estime que toutes les émissions doivent être comptabilisées et que la lutte aux changements climatiques doit être menée muni d’un plan solide assorti de cibles absolues et d’une bourse du carbone. 

Conservative Party:
(No answer received)

Green Party:
The Green Party of Canada is committed to upholding those emissions treaties we have ratified. This means that we will pursue our Kyoto emissions goals so that Canada can again enter into compliance with the treaty. An important facet of this commitment is ensuring that Canada has well protected forests. 

Liberal Party:
Unlike the Conservative government, the Liberal Party is fully committed to science based targets for the reduction of greenhouse gases, and will work closely with the international community to ensure that we meet our real reduction targets. We have committed to establishing a $400 million fund over four years to provide refundable tax credits for real, verified reductions in emissions from the forestry industry. Furthermore we will make the SR&ED Tax credit 25 per cent refundable to spur further innovation, to help create new products and new jobs for Canadians.

New Democratic Party:
A New Democrat government will implement Jack Layton’s legislation to achieve deep, science-based reductions of climate pollution in the post-2012 period. The Climate Change Accountability Act, proposed by the New Democrats and adopted by Parliament on June 4, 2008, is based on the Case for Deep Reductions report by the Pembina Institute, the David Suzuki Foundation, and the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy. This will establish

  • A long-term target to reduce Canadian greenhouse gas emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.
  • A medium-term target to bring emissions 25% below 1990 levels by 2020.

These are the medium and long-term targets consistent with the Kyoto process. To hold government accountable for meeting these targets, Jack Layton’s legislation will, provide authority for the government to make regulations in order to meet the targets and set penalties for those who contravene regulations passed under the Act. Through these actions a New Democrat government will ensure Canada is held accountable internationally for all of our greenhouse gas emissions regardless of how they are created.

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6. Will you accelerate progress in establishing a marine protected areas network?

Bloc Québecois:
Pour ce qui est des zones marines en territoire québécois, le Bloc Québécois souhaite qu\'Ottawa développe un réel partenariat avec le gouvernement du Québec et qu\'il respecte la volonté du Québec d\'avoir le plein contrôle de l\'aménagement de son territoire. Le Parc-marin du Saguenay est un bel exemple de partenariat à notre avis.

Conservative Party:
(No answer received)

Green Party:
Yes, the Green Party will accelerate progress in establishing marine protected areas.  More specifically, Green MPs will re-commit to the completion the National Parks system that consists of a representative network of Canada’s terrestrial and marine ecosystems, setting a target date of 2015. In order to meet the goal of completing our National Parks and Marine Protected Areas System by 2015, the Green Party of Canada will establish a National Park Completion Budget of $500 million annually.

  • Fast tracking the establishment of “no-take” marine protected areas.  Consultation with fisheries communities and sectors is essential drawing on experience from New Zealand and elsewhere where “no-take” areas actually improved the economically viable fisheries;
  • Extending, in partnership with provinces, territories, and aboriginal peoples, Canada’s network of land, freshwater and marine protected areas and linking them up with provincial and territorial protected areas wherever possible, and establishing compatible-use buffer zones around national parks for the maintenance of natural biological diversity and ecosystem health;

Liberal Party:
See answer to question #1.

New Democratic Party:
As part of the New Democrat plan for Protecting Our Natural Heritage we commit to establishing a nationally representative system of Marine Protected Areas and complete the Integrated Management Plans of our three oceans.

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7. Will you work with other organizations in the Northwest Territories to fully implement a plan for land use, including protected areas, before allowing major industrial developments like the Mackenzie Gas Project to proceed?

Bloc Québecois:
(No answer received)

Conservative Party:
(No answer received)

Green Party:
The Green Party believes that it is necessary to work with both the provinces and the territories to ensure that all major development projects evaluate their environmental impacts as well as their economic benefits. As such the Green party pledges to enter into a dialogue with territorial governments and other organizations to ensure that major projects such as the Mackenzie Gas Project conform with Canada’s environmental commitments and adequately plan for land use. 

Liberal Party:
A Liberal government will ensure that before any significant industrial project such as the Mackenzie Gas Project begins, a plan that properly protects the environment will be put in place.

New Democratic Party:
Completing land-use plans and ensuring environmental screening agencies like the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board have sufficient capacity to handle applications in a timely manner are key elements in improving the regulatory regime in the Northwest Territories.

New Democrats believe that major projects like the Mackenzie Gas Project must proceed only in a manner which protects the North’s environment and provide the maximum benefits to the people of the Northwest Territories.

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