Evidence of meeting #33 for Environment and Sustainable Development in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was conservation.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo  National Chief, Assembly of First Nations
  • Julia Ricottone  Regional Certification Coordinator, Canadian Nursery Landscape Association
  • Mary Simon  President, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami
  • Greg Farrant  Manager, Government Affairs and Policy, Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters
  • William David  Senior Policy Analyst, Environmental Stewardship, Assembly of First Nations

4:40 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette Drummond, QC

Thank you.

Do I have any time left?

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Mark Warawa

It's finished. Merci.

The next five minutes are for Mr. Sopuck.

May 3rd, 2012 / 4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

Thank you.

Ms. Simon, I really appreciated your very forceful comments about the international animal rights movement and their effect on communities right across the country, in the north and beyond. Again, the issue of foreign-funded groups trying to affect public policy in our country is at the forefront. As somebody in a previous life who's fought the animal rights fanatics, as I said, I very much appreciated those comments of yours.

I'd like to talk about the situation on Baker Lake. What I've heard is that there was a mine developed very close to Baker Lake that has been of great benefit to that community in terms of reducing unemployment to almost nothing. From your standpoint, from a conservation and environmental standpoint, did that mining development work for the community and also work for the local environment?

4:40 p.m.

President, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami

Mary Simon

Is that the old development or the new one?

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

It's the new one.

4:40 p.m.

President, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami

Mary Simon

I would say there has been a benefit, and it's highly supported by the region in terms of its development. Whether in fact it has almost eliminated unemployment in that area I can't answer directly at this point. We can get the figures for you. But I would assume there is a lot more opportunity for jobs. It depends on how and what those jobs are. As you know, our population up to today is still lagging behind in educational achievement, so sometimes it depends on how well someone is educated and can get those higher-paying jobs, not just the menial jobs.

These are still questions that confront us in the north.

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

Are you familiar with the environmental performance of that mine? Was it done in an environmentally sound way?

4:40 p.m.

President, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami

Mary Simon

As far as we're concerned, it was. There was an environmental review undertaken and the environmental review was accepted and people were involved in that review process.

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

My point was that I'm always looking for shining examples of sound economic development and high levels of environmental protection, and what I've heard is that the Baker Lake mine fulfills both.

I'd like to hear more, Ms. Simon, about the polar bear issue and where you see that going over the next little while. As you know, our government has been a strong defender of the Inuit polar bear hunt, and I presume we'll continue to do so. Polar bear stocks are in good shape, in your view. Could you elaborate?

4:40 p.m.

President, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami

Mary Simon

Yes, they are in good shape, despite the negative predictions of our closest neighbour. We have found that the population of polar bears has in fact increased because the polar bears are starting to come inland. The ice is melting. Polar bears live on ice and they hunt on ice, so when they have no food they start coming to the inland regions of the Arctic. In fact they are going into communities.

That's where the concern is right now. The threat to polar bears is not the hunting, it's climate change, and we have no control over what's happening on climate change. If it becomes ice-free, I don't know what's going to happen to the polar bears. They may adapt. I don't know. I'm not a scientist. But we know for sure they are becoming a threat more and more to the people who live in the communities. As you know, polar bears are vicious animals. They're beautiful, but they are nevertheless vicious.

Now we have polar bear watches in some of our communities when children go to school. Everybody walks to school. They don't want the children to confront polar bears in their community, because they do come into the communities.

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

Churchill has the same thing.

Mr. Farrant, one of the things that I like very much about the organized angling and hunting community is your active involvement in conservation programs.

You talked about the Atlantic salmon restoration program. Can you talk about some of the active programs in Ontario that either you or your member organizations are involved in? By active, I mean actually going out there and doing conservation work on the ground.

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Mark Warawa

It will be a very short answer, because Mr. Sopuck is out of time.

4:45 p.m.

Manager, Government Affairs and Policy, Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters

Greg Farrant

I'll try to be brief again. I won't answer “yes” this time.

I can give you some basic examples in a very short fashion.

The invading species awareness program is on the ground across this province. We have 27 summer students that we hire as a hit squad in every corner of this province. We have a permanent staff up in Thunder Bay dealing with invasive species on Lake Superior. They work with cottage associations, municipalities, marine operators, bait operators, bait-fish communities, law enforcement, and all sorts of local groups on the ground, everything from wash your boats to don't throw your bait out—things like that on a very local level.

The stream steward program enhances habitat, restores habitat by planting trees, restoring streams, and things like that.

Both of them are Trillium award-winning programs from the Province of Ontario.

Those are a couple of examples.

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Mark Warawa

Thank you so much.

Ms. Quach, you have five minutes.

4:45 p.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you all for being here today to give us your information and to answer our questions. I am going to continue with Mr. Farrant.

Earlier, Ms. Leslie brought up the matter of protecting fish habitat. You mentioned establishing a dialogue with the minister that would include you to a greater extent. In the budget bill presently before the House, are you expecting the minister to make any changes that would address your concerns?