(*please note …this letter was converted from a .pdf document, excluding Party logo/graphics.)
July 15, 2015
Dear Mr. Gourlay,
Thank you for your organization`s work promoting conservation in
Canada. Protection, preservation, and the restoration of our environment
are essential to the biodiversity of our planet, and to the health and
economy of this, and future, generations.
I am pleased to provide the following responses to the questions you
posed to party leaders regarding commitments to conservation.
Your first question dealt with the work of Canada’s Commission of
Conservation – which operated in the early 20th century. As you are
aware, the mandate of the Commission included numerous issues,
including fisheries, game and fur-bearing animals, forests, lands and
planning, minerals, and water and water powers. While the federal
government has a primary authority over the management of fisheries,
and over trans-boundary waters, provinces are primarily responsible for
the management of their natural resources. Until recently, federal
environmental assessment and other legislative protections were
designed to govern their development, but changes made to
environmental laws in omnibus budget bills have made sustainability little
more than an afterthought.
The approach to conservation must include the provinces, territories and
other levels of government, First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, civil
society groups, scientists, and concerned Canadians. Expert advice to
assess and advise on conservation is not only a good idea, it is necessary
to ensure our long-term viability.
Declaring December 11th ‘A Day for Our Common Future’ and work to
enshrine the principles of sustainable development as outlined by the
Brundtland Commission in Canada are worthy ideas. As you may be
aware, as Minister of the Environment in Quebec, I was responsible for
enacting the first Sustainable Development Act. In this Parliament, the
NDP brought forward legislation, Bill C-481, to integrate sustainable
development into the public policy decision-making process by, among
other things, ensuring that bills and regulations are studied by the
Minister of Justice and comply with the principles of the Sustainable
Development Act before they are passed, to shift towards a greener
Canada through concrete measures to change our policies, and to
respond to Canadians’ concerns about climate change, the biodiversity of
our planet and the natural beauty of our country.
Your third question dealt with engaging the various sectors, levels of
government, and the public in a Canada -wide Conference on
Conservation and Development in 2017. As previously mentioned,
consultation is essential for informed public decision making, and is
necessary for gaining social license. Canada’s 150th birthday is a timely
anniversary to take stock of Canada’s environment, and to set goals for
our next 150 years.
Although Canada has made commitments to the International Convention
on Biological Diversity, this Conservative government has cut scientific
capacity and compromised Environment Canada’s ability to properly
implement management plans. The Conservatives simply don’t
understand that protecting the environment is not a luxury, it is essential
to our survival. As countries around the world take action to deal with
threats to the marine environment, deep cuts to science, research and
conservation in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Environment
Canada, and Parks Canada have crippled our ability to achieve those
targets. We are falling far short of the progress made by most developed
countries, as Canada continues to lag when it comes to meeting national
and international commitments to protect marine biodiversity and in the
creation of Marine Protected Areas.
An NDP government would respect our commitments, restore our
scientific capacity, and put the resources in place to make Canada an
international leader, rather than a laggard, on biodiversity, conservation,
and protected areas.
Tom Mulcair, P.C., M.P.
Leader of the Official Opposition
New Democratic Party of Canada