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Evidence of meeting #31 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 nature.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Peter Kendall  Executive Director and Co-Chief Executive Officer, Earth Rangers
Len Ugarenko  President, Wildlife Habitat Canada
Sophie Gallais  Project Manager, Protected Areas, Nature Québec
Mark Northwood  President and Co-Chief Executive Officer, Earth Rangers

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Lawrence Toet Conservative Elmwood—Transcona, MB

You're playing a huge role by planting some seeds at an early age, which is very helpful.

4:15 p.m.

Executive Director and Co-Chief Executive Officer, Earth Rangers

Peter Kendall

We certainly hope so.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Lawrence Toet Conservative Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Absolutely.

Mr. Ugarenko, in your presentation you briefly touched on the agriculture, mining, and forestry sectors being involved in this plan. One of our guests the other day from Nature Conservancy of Canada made a comment about the completion of the working landscape, and how those in industry—he was talking specifically about mining companies—were just as keen as anybody else about conservation.

Has that been your experience also? If so, how are you seeing that working out, and how can we incorporate the industry sector into being a complete part of this national conservation plan?

4:20 p.m.

President, Wildlife Habitat Canada

Len Ugarenko

You're right. The industry sector is participating more and more in conservation. There are programs across North America started initially by the Wildlife Habitat Council in the United States, but they do work here in Canada. One of the biggest groups they're working with is Ontario Hydro. They also work with mining and forestry companies to help them assess the wildlife and wildlife habitat on the properties they're using, and then to draw up conservation plans they can work with while they're extracting the natural resources and then to rehabilitate the sites. A couple of cement companies have done a marvellous job of restoring their open-pit quarries into places that are actually more beautiful and productive, because of the management, than they were before the companies started to extract resources from them.

Many of these companies are searching, but they don't have the tools. They really don't know where to go. People are telling them to do this, do that, but they're slowly building up their expertise. I've seen in the past five or ten years that they now have scientific people, that is, biologists, on their staff to help them with this kind of stuff. In the agricultural sector, for example, if you work with the big producers, they then go down to the folks who have the small farms. Groups like Ducks Unlimited go around doing farm plans with the farmers, showing them how they can preserve the habitat they have, and also showing them how their farming can be more productive, more profitable, and more effective. So it's really just about connecting.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Lawrence Toet Conservative Elmwood—Transcona, MB

It's about connecting it all.

You talked about development, and I was really intrigued when you talked about the cement company and the work they had done. So obviously you'd be of a mind too that industry or development isn't necessarily a negative influence on the environment. There can be a very positive outcome from it. Mr. Lunney touched on the fact that all three of us have some of our roots along the Winnipeg river system, which essentially was brought about because of the hydro project in eastern Manitoba. So there is opportunity. I think if you talk to people in Manitoba, even a large portion of the young people today, you'll find that their first touches with nature and conservancy and the idea of conserving nature came about from being in this provincial park created by this project.

Do you see that we can work more and more in that vein, and that industry also has a great opportunity to be part of a great solution in the conservation plans?

4:20 p.m.

President, Wildlife Habitat Canada

Len Ugarenko

Yes, sir. I tell people that my name's Len, and I wear jewellery and glasses. I've got gold and silver fillings, so I rely on the mining industry.

4:20 p.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!

4:20 p.m.

President, Wildlife Habitat Canada

Len Ugarenko

I love to carve. I've got wooden furniture in my house, and it's framed with wood, so I rely on the timber industry. I drive a car, I heat my house, so I also rely on the oil and gas industry. That's the reality.

The other side of that reality, again, is connecting what you're doing with what they're doing. Instead of going in with a baseball bat, go in with an apple pie. Help them because they want to listen, they want to do good things. When you talk to the executives of these companies, or even their workers, they have families and children and they have concerns about what's happening in the environment. They are searching for ways to try to improve the production, improve the supply chain. But, again, many of them are too busy and they just don't have the time to search out the resources. I think they'd be more than happy to come to the table and express their concerns and listen to others, so they do have a place in this national conservation plan, whether it's on their own lands or on adjacent lands, or whether it's helping to fund projects.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Mark Warawa

Thank you.

Next we have Ms. Liu. Welcome back. Vous avez cinq minutes.

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Laurin Liu NDP Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I would like to thank all the witnesses and to welcome them here.

Len, in your testimony you spoke briefly about climate change. We know that climate change has an affect on ecosystems, including an affect on invasive species, which we discussed in our earlier study on invasive species. We can name things like the spruce/pine beetle, and the fact that changes in climate had an affect on the proliferation of these species. So it's really important to connect the dots when we talk about conservation.

I was wondering if you had any specific recommendations in terms of how we can incorporate climate change into a conservation strategy or how it can be taken into account.

4:25 p.m.

President, Wildlife Habitat Canada

Len Ugarenko

It's interesting that you mention the pine beetle—and there's only so much that we can put into one of these presentations—because the pine beetle is moving farther north and ravaging the forests up the west coast. It has the potential to go across the boreal forest in Canada.

One way of adapting to climate change is to look at the path of these creatures. If provinces, governments, conservation organizations are going to invest in large tracts of land to protect grizzly bears, bighorn sheep, and elk, we have to think of the future. Will there be the habitat there? Is that the best place to put the money?

If we're looking at ocean-level rise, if we start setting up protected marine areas around estuaries, will those estuaries still be viable when and if sea-level rise does occur?

When we have people coming to us from the Atlantic provinces and they want to look at protecting saltwater marshes, one of the things I ask them to do is to look at the projection maps. If you're going to protect the saltwater marsh now, will it still be there 10 years from now or will it be under water?

That's what I really mean about climate change and managing it.

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Laurin Liu NDP Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

I would like to ask Ms. Gallais a few questions.

You mentioned the conservation of habitats, particularly fish habitats. However, according to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Keith Ashfield, the government is in a way changing direction. Just to give you some context, I will cite the following remarks by the minister:

This means focusing protection rules on real and significant threats to these fisheries and the habitat that supports them while setting clear standards and guidelines for routine projects.

How do you accept this change in direction, which emphasizes fishing, whereas we are talking about fish habitat?

4:25 p.m.

Project Manager, Protected Areas, Nature Québec

Sophie Gallais

For us, this is definitely a change that is not headed in the right direction.

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Mark Warawa

Madame Gallais, just one moment, please. We have a point of order.

Ms. Rempel.

April 26th, 2012 / 4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Centre-North, AB

On a point of order, Mr. Chair, I would ask my colleague to rephrase her question in terms of how this affects the national conservation plan.

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Mark Warawa

The point of order is that we address the NCP as opposed to getting partisan.

I encourage the questions to be asked in a respectful way and dealing with how we develop a national conservation plan.

Thank you.

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Laurin Liu NDP Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

My question specifically concerns habitat conservation, which Ms. Gallais mentioned. So I believe this is absolutely relevant. And when you discuss conservation, you also have to talk about habitat.

I would simply like to hear your answer, since these changes are happening now.

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Centre-North, AB

Mr. Chair, a point of order—

4:25 p.m.

Project Manager, Protected Areas, Nature Québec

Sophie Gallais

As regards the act respecting fish habitat—

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Mark Warawa

Order. One moment, please.

Ms. Rempel.

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Centre-North, AB

Again, I haven't heard a change in the question regarding how this would affect the scope of the study. We had a very clear scope of study, with six clear questions for witnesses.

My colleague's rephrasing of her statement did not reflect the scope of the study.

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Mark Warawa

Is there any further comment on that point of order? Otherwise I'll rule.

Madame Quach.

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

It seems to me the question is absolutely relevant, since we are talking about conservation. The question concerns fisheries legislation that will result in changes in this area. That has a specific impact on fish habitat and on waters. In my opinion, it is absolutely appropriate for my colleague to put that question to Ms. Gallais, who is talking about defending natural habitats, ecosystems and biodiversity.

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Mark Warawa

Ms. Rempel.

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Centre-North, AB

Again, Mr. Chair, we're here today to discuss the development of a national conservation plan. The committee put a lot of effort into developing the scope of the study, and we've had excellent collaboration across the aisle and from witnesses on keeping the points relevant to the scope of that study.

While I appreciate that there may be certain components of what my colleague is saying to the national conservation plan, again, she did not rephrase her question in that regard. Should she wish to review the scope of these changes, I'd direct her perhaps to the fisheries committee, or the relevant department that may be studying this, at that point in time.