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Evidence of meeting #29 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 young.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Monte Hummel  Chair, Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement
Bradley Young  Senior Policy Analyst, National Aboriginal Forestry Association

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Young, is that what you were touching on? You used the word “consultation”, but maybe we need to find a new word for that.

4:25 p.m.

Senior Policy Analyst, National Aboriginal Forestry Association

Bradley Young

Yes and no. I think the general intent and the general working dynamic Monte shared with us is generally correct. The legality that comes into international conventions and treaties, the establishment of free prior informed consent, and consent within the Convention on Biological Diversity are going to kick things up another gear in terms of some of the formality and some of the early initial design and engagement that should go into this.

I know that first nations across the land, whether it's at the community level or all the way up to the PTOs and into the national first nations governmental organizations, take the international conventions quite seriously. Things like the United Nations Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples—well, it's not draft anymore, because it's been ratified by the General Assembly—and different conventions are watched. There's an expression and there's a waiting and a willingness from all the parties to finally say to the Government of Canada, “Let's treat with each other.” That's the hope.

The other way of doing it is to look at each community. Chiefs in these communities are the signatories for these rights. They're going to have their unique spin on it as well. That will all have to be taken into consideration, and there will have to be a high level of rigour.

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Mark Warawa

Thank you.

Ms. Rempel, you have five minutes.

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Centre-North, AB

Just to pick up on the theme of consultation, Mr. Hummel, I'm interested in hearing briefly about some of the guiding principles you used to bring together what you referred to as two warring factions in the development of the agreement. Could you speak briefly to some of those principles and how they could potentially be leveraged to develop a national conservation plan?

4:30 p.m.

Chair, Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement

Monte Hummel

I'll try.

One of the things that brought us together was that the status quo was no longer sustainable. I mean, it was exhausting. It was resulting in the worst of both worlds for both of us. You kind of say that you can't continue like this.

On the more positive side, I think we stood back and realized that there was a fit. You could actually cut portions of the boreal forest and provide for economic development and provide for conservation. You could bring them together. You had statesmen-like people on both sides who said it was time to put away the weapons of war and see if we could work something out together. I can't really be much more specific than that.

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Centre-North, AB

So an acknowledgement of that need for balance is there, between the strong environmental stewardship component and the economic growth.

4:30 p.m.

Chair, Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement

Monte Hummel

It's an accommodation of each other's interests.

The good negotiator is the one who listens to the other person's position and manages to accommodate as much of it as he or she possibly can, rather than the one who folds their arms and says all he knows is that this is his position. So if people put themselves in the other's shoes....

I went through exercises where all the conservationists had to make the economic development proposals and all the economic development interests had to make all the conservation proposals.

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Centre-North, AB

That's very cool.

My question for Mr. Young is this. We've talked a little to some of the other witnesses, and you spoke briefly about that urban connectivity component. This is something I think we're all very interested in. You spoke a bit about the need for first nations living in urban areas, and that there is a gap there for that connectivity back to nature and that needs to be part of the NCP.

I want to give you a little more time to expand some thoughts you might have around that, and maybe give us some examples of some programs that are working within that community. Perhaps some principles in those programs could be broadened to a larger scale for a diverse set of urban audiences.

4:30 p.m.

Senior Policy Analyst, National Aboriginal Forestry Association

Bradley Young

The one main program that comes to mind would be the Urban Multipurpose Aboriginal Youth Centres initiative, UMAYC. I sat on one of the adjudication committees in Alberta for this. It was managed out of the Department of Canadian Heritage. As a youth board we would give advice on the delegation of funds for urban cultural programming.

One of the major challenges we had was that connectivity piece, because the programming is meant to be deployed in the urban area, but what you wanted to connect these young people to in various ways was back to nature, back to their traditional roots, and back to their traditional culture.

That's where the gap is, in terms of program design and delivery. It's getting that connectivity in terms of the energy of youth directed back in a positive fashion out onto what I would see as a working landscape. That also has tremendous spiritual and cultural and historical resonance for those youth in the urban centres of Canada.

Is that a new program? I don't know. We've tried, to a limited degree over the years in NAFA, to work on the professional end of things with foresters and different natural resource texts to connect them back in terms of the operational side, the professional side.

But there is the whole cultural side as well that has to fit in there too. To build it into programming for national parks, again, there is no programming for a national park that I'm aware of that says we're going to pluck kids from the urban centre and bring them out to, say, Jasper.

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Centre-North, AB

Briefly, you spoke of that gap. What are some of the bullet-point issues that you think are some of the challenges that we need to address to overcome that gap?

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Mark Warawa

Your time has expired.

4:35 p.m.

Senior Policy Analyst, National Aboriginal Forestry Association

Bradley Young

Resources, people who do it, and a longer-term timeframe because the youth have been subjected to an intergenerational traumatic experience. So turning that around and connecting it back to the land base is going to take some time. It can't just be a one-year or a two-year thing. It should be built right into the long-term goals.

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Mark Warawa

Good. Thank you.

Mr. Pilon, you have five minutes.

April 3rd, 2012 / 4:35 p.m.

NDP

François Pilon NDP Laval—Les Îles, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you for your presentation.

Mr. Young, could you tell us about the efforts and progress made by first nations so far in terms of the national conservation plan? The national association mentioned by phone a map explaining their progress. Could you tell us more about that?

4:35 p.m.

Senior Policy Analyst, National Aboriginal Forestry Association

Bradley Young

Specific technical work on the national conservation plan has not really happened yet. We've heard about it before, leading up to the throne speech. It was in the throne speech, and here we are now at the environment and sustainability committee to talk about it. The land base is kind of the one grounding influence for all of the policy design that happens here in Ottawa for Canada. If you have something happening, it's going to happen on the land.

Our thinking in terms of how we want to engage with this has been that we did some really solid technical work in the mid-2000s around mapping out and providing metrics for first nations lands under management—mainly provincial or territorial forestry concessions—and we said, look, here is where first nations are actually working on the land base, and they're doing all kinds of neat things here. Yes, they're logging, they're doing silviculture, but they're also doing other things there too.

At this point we're saying, well, now look at all the conservation that has happened here. So here's the Great Bear rainforest. Here is Pimachiowin Aki. Here is a regional park that has a conservation initiative with these first nations, but here are also some of the potential mining developments that are happening. Here are some of the oil and gas developments that are happening. Here are some of the other developments that are happening across the land base and creating a national story, because the national conservation plan will potentially affect all of that across the sectors.

From a first nations perspective, we want to show the first nations footprint in conjunction with all the other footprints that are on the land base, and then let the various parties work with that technical knowledge in the best manner.

That's two and a half minutes. You have time for one more.

4:35 p.m.

NDP

François Pilon NDP Laval—Les Îles, QC

How would you like the government to integrate first nations in its national plan?

4:35 p.m.

Senior Policy Analyst, National Aboriginal Forestry Association

Bradley Young

I think there is going to have to be a meeting of the minds on the legal parameters around free, prior, and informed consent, and I trust there will be.

I think there is some goodwill on all sides of the table. People want to see things done a little more proactively on the land base out there on all sides of the table, and I think that's the goodwill that will go into this.

From there, I can't get any more specific other than to say design it with first nations. There are going to be some high levels of rigour there. Keep the will going. It's important work. It's work, again, that we can do to magnify Canada's national and international image out there, and provide a really good and sound base of prosperity, not only economic but ecological, cultural, and spiritual—all of the great things that Monte and everybody I know around the table here share.

4:35 p.m.

NDP

François Pilon NDP Laval—Les Îles, QC

Mr. Hummel, the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement has been around for two years now. Do you have some concrete examples of the benefits of this agreement?

4:40 p.m.

Chair, Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement

Monte Hummel

Yes.

Both industry and the conservation community with broader community support have made recommendations to the governments of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Canada regarding the conservation of woodland caribou. I want to emphasize that that's joint advice. In other words, this is a very divisive critter. It tends to divide people. So when you can actually say here is our advice on the conservation of this species, and it enjoys the support of these two former warring parties, that makes quite a difference.

We will be coming forward at our second anniversary with more cohesive plans around candidate protected areas, protected area plans, as well as caribou action plans for these very large pilot projects that we have been undertaking over the last two years in Canada, which would enjoy support, again, of the broader community. So I think having that joint advice is quite unique and important, and it's a contribution we're proud of.

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Mark Warawa

Thank you.

Next we have Ms. Ambler.

You have five minutes.

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Conservative Mississauga South, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you to our guests today for most informative presentations.

I'd like to ask what I think will be a fairly quick question first to Mr. Young, with regard to the initiative you mentioned, the White Feather forest initiative in Ontario. Could you tell us briefly a bit about this, and also tell us where the funding came from for this initiative?

4:40 p.m.

Senior Policy Analyst, National Aboriginal Forestry Association

Bradley Young

The White Feather forest initiative comes out of northwestern Ontario, centred roughly around the Pikangikum First Nation's traditional territory, and then it flows further west into the eastern side of the lakes in Manitoba.

There's a consortium of either six or seven first nations—I don't have my technical notes in front of me—that have managed to make it work in partnership with provincial ministries from both Manitoba and Ontario, and also with a federal level of jurisdiction through Parks Canada, and then an international jurisdiction involving the UNESCO world heritage site designation party. Someone raised in the critical academic tradition would look at the surface of that and ask how the heck they are going to keep that boat going in the same direction—and they have done so.

I don't know the exact funding formula for how all these parties have contributed and what the funding formulas are; I don't have the agreements. I know that there have been investments by the provinces, both Manitoba and Ontario, and I imagine that to have Parks Canada people and UNESCO adjudicating people there, there would have to be some sort of in-kind contribution at minimum, in terms of time for staff.

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Conservative Mississauga South, ON

I believe there has been some federal funding. I should probably find out about that and let this committee know.

Thank you for that. I appreciate that answer.

I'd like to ask Mr. Hummel about the role of urban areas and their protection as part of the national conservation plan. The Rouge Park in Toronto is expected to be the largest urban park in the world at 6,000 hectares. It will be 15 times larger than Central Park in New York City and within an hour's drive of seven million people.

In addition to that, the not-so-happy part is that since 2006-07, attendance at Canada's wildlife parks and marine and historic attractions has fallen 7%, but in Ontario and Quebec by 12%. My question is a general one and possibly a bit of a lob question. Should connecting urban Canadians with nature be a goal of the national conservation plan?

4:40 p.m.

Chair, Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Conservative Mississauga South, ON

That was easy, wasn't it?