For Immediate Release
March 24, 2016
With a provincial election on the horizon, the Canadian Parks & Wilderness Society (CPAWS) has today released an all-party questionnaire to help inform voters of party positions on issues related to the future of the vast Boreal region of Manitoba. The questions were developed with input from CPAWS members. Hundreds of Manitobans have signed online in support of the request for public responses to the questions from all parties.
The questionnaire focuses on four key topics of Boreal relevance including the health of Lake Winnipeg, threatened woodland caribou populations, community-led land use planning and the current commitment to protect 17% of lands and inland waters in Manitoba by 2020.
‘The Boreal covers 80% of the province and a 2015 poll (by Probe Research) shows 88% of people in Manitoba want the majority of the Boreal protected from industrial developments(1). It’s clearly an issue of great importance to the majority of Manitobans and so is something that all parties should be prepared to speak to’ says Ron Thiessen, Executive Director of CPAWS Manitoba.
CPAWS is asking all parties to respond publicly before election-day and will be bringing the conversation to social media to amplify awareness of the initiative.
Manitoba commitments echo federal and public perspective
The commitment to protect 17% by 2020 was initially made by Canada in 2010 through the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity and by Manitoba in 2015 through their protected areas strategy(2). It received renewed attention when reaffirmed in a March 10, 2016 joint statement issued by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Barack Obama(3). The two national leaders recognized these targets as an initial step toward greater protections and that concrete action will be taken to ‘substantially surpass these national goals in the coming years’.
The goal was readily supported by representatives of all parties present at a March 8 forum on environmental issues(4).
‘Political leaders are paying attention to the wave of scientist supported public desire for large scale protection of the lands and waters that we depend on. The Boreal region offers the province’s best opportunity for long term planning for a healthy balance of conservation and the development of sustainable economies’ says Thiessen. ‘Though we have many admirable commitments on paper, we’re hopeful that the party that forms government in April will make Manitoba the Canadian leader in on-the-ground Boreal conservation.”
CPAWS is hopeful that any approach to these questions proposed by party leaders will embrace Indigenous science and traditional knowledge and will affirm Indigenous and Treaty rights.
To inspire the political parties, CPAWS is asking Manitobans to continue signing on in support of these questions on its website. The organization anticipates reaching over 100,000 Manitobans on social media with the responses provided by provincial parties.
For more information and interviews:
Ron Thiessen, Executive Director
Canadian Parks & Wilderness Society – Manitoba Chapter