CPAWS Survey Reveals Parties’ Views on Wilderness and Wildlife Protection


All but one of the provincial political parties have responded to a survey from the Manitoba chapter of the Canadian Parks & Wilderness Society (CPAWS), released today. The Conservative Party did not participate.

The survey asked questions about conserving the Boreal wilderness region, completing the Protected Areas Initiative, protecting woodland caribou, and enlarging the Fisher Bay provincial park.

“We’re pleased that all the parties that responded made commitments to protection for all of Manitoba’s natural regions,” said Ron Thiessen, executive director of the CPAWS Manitoba chapter. “We are disappointed that the Conservative Party chose not to participate and give voters information regarding their stand on these important issues.”

CPAWS is encouraging voters to consider the environmental commitments of all the political parties. The party platforms can easily be found online on their respective websites.

Survey Results:

Party websites:

Green Party:
Website
YouTube
Liberals:
Website
YouTube
NDP:
Website
YouTube
PC:
Website
YouTube

Green Party

1) In 2011, the Fisher Bay provincial park was established. The park provides core protection for the Fisher Bay area but according to recent scientific study the park needs to be larger to ensure the region remains ecologically healthy.

If elected, would you work with Fisher River Cree Nation to explore their proposal for expanding the boundaries of Fisher Bay provincial park?

YES! This is a great example of the potential for eco-tourism as an economic driver for Manitoba, particularly for the first nation communities who this is done with.

2) In 1990, Manitoba announced the Protected Areas Initiative that included the goal of establishing by the year 2000, a network of protected areas representative of each Manitoba’s natural regions that would be free from logging, mining and hydroelectric development and other activities that could significantly affect natural habitat. Eleven years past the original deadline, this process remains incomplete.

If elected, would you complete the Manitoba Protected Areas Initiative by 2015?

YES! It is terrible that we did all of this work eleven years ago, but because we allowed this process to go stale, we may have to start over again, wasting valuable time and money. Considerable land was identified by industry groups such as the Manitoba Mining Association where protection could move forward. Yes we are still standing still.

3) Woodland caribou are listed as a threatened species in Manitoba. Science tells us woodland caribou need large intact areas of boreal forest so they can find enough food, avoid predators, and keep away from species that spread lethal parasites.

If elected, would you update Manitoba’s Conservation and Recovery Strategy for Boreal Woodland Caribou to include ‘protected areas’ as a key objective?

YES! The Dr. Shaeffer report commissioned by CPAWS provides a great place to start.

4) The boreal region is earth’s largest source of fresh water and has been deemed the ‘northern lungs of the planet’. In 2007, over 1500 scientists from across the globe sent Canadian governments a letter recommending that we protect a minimum of 50% of our boreal region in an intact state. Falling below this threshold may result in the boreal region losing its full functionality as an integral part of the earth’s life support system.

If elected, would you make a commitment to work with all involved to protect at least 50% of Manitoba’s boreal region from industrial developments while ensuring a healthy economic future for forest dependent communities?

YES! We need to rethink our how we economically value this precious resource. A tree standing in the forest, has no value even though it purifies air and water, stores carbon, provides habitat, etc. Yet when we cut down the forest, or strip the earth underneath for resources the boreal suddenly has value. To protect 50% of the boreal we need to cure this economic inequity; we need to understand the value of the boreal!

Liberal Party

1) In 2011, the Fisher Bay provincial park was established. The park provides core protection for the Fisher Bay area but according to recent scientific study the park needs to be larger to ensure the region remains ecologically healthy.

If elected, would you work with Fisher River Cree Nation to explore their proposal for expanding the boundaries of Fisher Bay provincial park?

Our vision is to provide Manitobans with an unparalleled quality of life with clean air, high quality water, a natural environment that we have respected and cared for, and opportunities for Manitobans to enjoy the outdoors.

If elected, we would explore the potential expansion of Fisher Bay Provincial Park.

2) In 1990, Manitoba announced the Protected Areas Initiative that included the goal of establishing by the year 2000, a network of protected areas representative of each Manitoba’s natural regions that would be free from logging, mining and hydroelectric development and other activities that could significantly affect natural habitat. Eleven years past the original deadline, this process remains incomplete.

If elected, would you complete the Manitoba Protected Areas Initiative by 2015?

As part of a Liberal mandate, we will complete a province-wide network of protected areas representing all major natural habitats in the province, which will also include a review of water, including underwater habitat that is critical for fish or other water species, for possible protected area status.

3) Woodland caribou are listed as a threatened species in Manitoba. Science tells us woodland caribou need large intact areas of boreal forest so they can find enough food, avoid predators, and keep away from species that spread lethal parasites.

If elected, would you update Manitoba’s Conservation and Recovery Strategy for Boreal Woodland Caribou to include ‘protected areas’ as a key objective?

This merits our support – Absolutely.

4) The boreal region is earth’s largest source of fresh water and has been deemed the ‘northern lungs of the planet’. In 2007, over 1500 scientists from across the globe sent Canadian governments a letter recommending that we protect a minimum of 50% of our boreal region in an intact state. Falling below this threshold may result in the boreal region losing its full functionality as an integral part of the earth’s life support system.

If elected, would you make a commitment to work with all involved to protect at least 50% of Manitoba’s boreal region from industrial developments while ensuring a healthy economic future for forest dependent communities?

Within its first six months in office, a Liberal government will convene a meeting of all Boreal Forest stakeholders to develop a long-term plan to manage and protect this vital natural resource. Manitoba Liberals see the Forest’s protection as critical in the fight against climate change and as an important natural legacy that must be preserved for future generations. Liberals also see the potential of the Forest to generate thousands of jobs, through such activities as eco-tourism and the sustainable harvesting of natural resources.

NDP

Note: The NDP chose to respond in a narrative rather than using the format provided.

Thank you very much for your recent election questionnaire.

Since 1999, the NDP has worked very closely with advocates including Canadian Parks & Wilderness Society to protect our most precious natural areas. Unlike during the 1990s, working with impacted Aboriginal and First Nations communities has been a top priority during this process. In the last decade we have protected more than 2.76 million hectares of the province, bringing the amount of protected area in Manitoba to over 10% of our territory. We have increased the number of ecological reserves, Wildlife Management Areas, and provincial parks. And as you know, we have made a historic decision to ban commercial logging in all but one provincial park.

If we are re-elected, we are committed to continuing to work with CPAWS on the issues that you have identified in your letter, with a goal of protecting Manitoba’s natural regions. However, we respectfully submit that there are two fundamental issues at stake for those concerned about environmental protection during this provincial election campaign.

The protection of Manitoba’s east side boreal forest, and the need for stronger protections of Lake Winnipeg, are arguably the most important environmental issues of this generation. On both of these issues, Today’s NDP has taken a forward-looking and responsible stance; on both of these issues Hugh McFadyen’s PCs have taken reckless and risky positions. This is what is at stake on October 4th.

Since 2000 the NDP has worked with local communities and chiefs, including holding over 80 community meetings, with the aim of providing residents with greater say over how the area on the East Side of Lake Winnipeg is to be managed. We are currently very proud to support Pimachiowin Aki in their bid to have the east side of Lake Winnipeg declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We have pledged $10 million to kick start a Trust Fund. This past May, international luminaries from groups such as the International Institute for Sustainable Development and the David Suzuki Foundation toured the proposed site which includes undisturbed boreal forest and outstanding cultural sites. David Suzuki himself has called this area a “priceless gift”.

Despite all this, Hugh McFadyen still doesn’t get it. He continues to advocate for a major transmission line straight through the heart of the Boreal forest. This would jeopardize the UNESCO bid and would tie Manitoba Hydro up with years of legal challenges. If he has his way, our Boreal forest will be gone and we’ll never get it back.

Secondly, as you know concerted action is needed by people and communities across Manitoba to better protect Lake Winnipeg. Since 1999 the NDP has taken strong action to protect our water – from banning on the sale of bulk water and creating Canada’s first department entirely devoted to water, to introducing new buffer zones to protect sensitive areas and strengthening the enforcement powers of environment officers.

Every step of the way we have had to fight with Hugh McFadyen and the PCs. They have criticized water protection officers, they called the Water Protection Act “wrong-headed”, and they promised to repeal the regional moratorium on unsustainable hog industry expansion.

This Spring, a five-year study of Lake Winnipeg was released, showing that much more aggressive action was needed. In response we passed aggressive legislation aimed at reducing phosphorous levels by 50 per cent. In particular, the legislation expanded the regional hog moratorium to cover the whole province, and it required the City of Winnipeg to replace its North End Sewage Treatment with a full Biological Nutrient Removal (BNR) Plant to keep pollutants out of the lake.

While Hugh McFadyen supported this legislation at the time, he has already backtracked on his commitment. During this campaign, he mischaracterized the bill as “a lifting of the hog moratorium” and said, “that’s why we supported the bill.” In fact Bill 46 did not change a single word in the definition of prohibited hog barns – rather it expanded the geographic area covered by the moratorium. Further, McFadyen’s Economic Strategy aims to cut $350 million from the North End Treatment Plant – meaning minimal upgrades to this aging plant which is so desperately in need of repair. Clearly McFadyen can’t be trusted to protect our water.

On October 4th let’s keep Manitoba on the right track.

If re-elected, we look forward to meeting with you to discuss these and other important issues.