DISSENTING OPINION BY THE LIBERAL PARTY OF CANADA
STUDY TO PROVIDE RECOMMENDATIONS REGARDING THE DEVELOPMENT OF A NATIONAL CONSERVATION PLAN
Kirsty Duncan, Member of Parliament
This dissenting report first thanks all witnesses who testified before the Environment and Sustainable Development Committee, and thanks them for their time, effort, and good will.
The development of a National Conservation Plan (NCP) should be an important step for Canada. It is therefore extremely unfortunate that its consideration comes at a time when the government is gutting 50 years of environmental protection, and thus, risking the health and safety of Canadians. For example, Bill C-38 repeals the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, repeals the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, weakens several environmental laws, including species at risk and water, and nearly eliminates fish habitat in the fisheries act, and gives the federal cabinet authority to over-rule a decision of the National Energy Board.
Real consideration of a NCP should ensure strengthening of environmental laws, not eliminating and weakening them.
Recommendation: That an independent committee of experts be appointed to review the changes made in Bill C-38, its impacts on the environment and sustainable development, and make recommendations to the Minister based on the results of its review.
It is also extremely unfortunate that the committee’s report does not include: (1) a framework of Canada’s existing conservation efforts; (2) a comprehensive list of Canada’s international and national environmental commitments; (3) a valuing of the environment beyond an economic value or a natural resource value; (4) a comprehensive discussion of conservation, protection, and restoration; and (5) a comprehensive discussion of how climate change is projected to impact the environment, how a NCP might be developed to mitigate projected impacts, and how a NCP might be developed to aid adaptation.
The foundation of the report should have been based on evidence–namely, a comprehensive framework, including GIS maps, of all conservation efforts to date. Surely, the government would want to know what conservation efforts are currently in place before beginning any consideration of the development of a NCP.
Recommendation 2: That the government provide a comprehensive review, catalogue, and framework of conservation efforts to date, as the starting place for the development of the NCP.
Other key evidence that should have been included in the committee’s report is the government’s current international and national environmental commitments, with a recommendation that the government should use the development of the NCP to help meet its commitments.
Recommendation 3: That the government provide a comprehensive listing of its current international and national environmental commitments, its progress in meeting each commitment (e.g. no action, in progress, or completed), and identification of priority goals and targets for inclusion in the development of the NCP.
A discussion recognising the intrinsic value of the environment should have been included in the committee’s report.
Recommendation 4: That the government undertake a values exercise regarding the environment.
A comprehensive discussion of conservation, protection, and restoration should have been included in the committee’s report
Recommendation 5: That as part of the recommended comprehensive review of conservation efforts, the government should identify all conservation, protection, and restoration efforts to date, and identify goals and targets for each of conservation, protection, and restoration.
Climate change will have a significant impact on Canada’s environment, including the atmosphere, biosphere, terrestrial landscape, and water.
Recommendation 6: That the government identify how climate change is projected to impact Canada’s regional environments, as well as the atmosphere, biosphere, terrestrial environment, and water, and how a NCP might be developed to mitigate projected impacts, and how a NCP might be developed to aid adaptation.
Finally, perhaps the government should consider the development of a Biological Survey of Canada to perform biological surveys and protect the environment.
Recommendation 7: That the government should consider the establishment of a Biological Survey of Canada.