Evidence of meeting #62 for Environment and Sustainable Development in the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was work.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

James Fortune  Chief Operating Officer, Ducks Unlimited Canada
Mark Butler  Policy Director, Ecology Action Centre

9:40 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Harold Albrecht

Mrs. Ambler, please.

9:40 a.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Conservative Mississauga South, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you to Mr. Butler and Mr. Fortune for being here today to inform our study.

I want to talk to Ducks Unlimited Canada about Ontario, the land of 1,000 lakes where I'm from—and where 13 million people also live—to pick up on the conversation about wetland loss. According to your website, southern Ontario apparently has lost 72% of its wetlands, over 170,000 acres, between 1982 and 2002 alone.

In Canada, is it true that it's the equivalent of 45 soccer fields per day of wetlands that are lost? That's a bit shocking and sad.

I wonder if any of the work that Ducks Unlimited Canada does is in urban areas in particular.

9:40 a.m.

Chief Operating Officer, Ducks Unlimited Canada

James Fortune

Yes, it is.

Let's define “urban” a little bit. In downtown Ottawa, where it's heavily developed—paved—there's not a lot that you can do in those areas. But if you look at the footprint in the hinterlands surrounding urban areas, we're quite involved there. This project in Carp would be an example. You can stand here and look up, and you can see the subdivisions coming all around. It's right out there on the edge.

We have extensive interpretive facilities. In a lot of places, we're aiming at and endeavouring to maintain the base that exists there.

9:40 a.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Conservative Mississauga South, ON

Interpretive facilities?

9:40 a.m.

Chief Operating Officer, Ducks Unlimited Canada

James Fortune

Yes, educational centres.

9:40 a.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Conservative Mississauga South, ON

Are some of those in partnership with the private sector?

9:40 a.m.

Chief Operating Officer, Ducks Unlimited Canada

James Fortune

Oh, definitely. Indeed, they are.

9:40 a.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Conservative Mississauga South, ON

The definition of what you do—everything you do—is really in partnership with the private sector.

Would that be a fair statement?

9:40 a.m.

Chief Operating Officer, Ducks Unlimited Canada

James Fortune

Yes, it is.

Our conservation programs are based on science. Once we can target the best thing to do for wetlands, then we go and raise the money. A lot of it comes from the private sector and either the landowners themselves or from industry.

9:40 a.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Conservative Mississauga South, ON

I was also impressed to read about your partnership with Street Capital Financial Corporation. I like the slogan “Get a home for your family, give a home to wildlife”. That's very nice.

Does that operate across Canada? How does that work?

9:40 a.m.

Chief Operating Officer, Ducks Unlimited Canada

James Fortune

Yes, it does.

That's an affinity program. It's like the credit card. A financial company says, “We'd like to approach Ducks Unlimited supporters and conservation-minded people with a mortgage opportunity. We'll give a great rate.” For every mortgage that they sign up, we get a share of the proceeds from it. Those are affinity-style partnerships.

9:40 a.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Conservative Mississauga South, ON

It's almost like social licence but on a smaller scale, on an individual family scale.

9:40 a.m.

Chief Operating Officer, Ducks Unlimited Canada

9:40 a.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Conservative Mississauga South, ON

I was particularly interested in the second point you made about the types of partnerships you have, and voluntary conservation offset, in particular the habitat banking.

I have two questions on that.

In your experience, is it only the large private sector companies that can afford to do this kind of thing? Are there any SMEs that might participate in these types of initiatives and projects?

With regard to my second question, you mentioned pre-banking, doing this habitat conservation banking before the other project is completed. Can you tell us how that works?

9:45 a.m.

Chief Operating Officer, Ducks Unlimited Canada

James Fortune

The first question was, do we have small and medium-sized enterprises involved? I wouldn't say in the voluntary offset. It's not a specific initiative, with small business saying they want to do this to offset.

To your point about the social licence and being a responsible corporation, they're supporting us and we are conserving habitat. They're not looking for acres to broadcast or to claim, or anything like that. They're doing it to be a good corporate citizen.

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Conservative Mississauga South, ON

Sometimes it's just a matter of greening your corporate grounds, for example.

9:45 a.m.

Chief Operating Officer, Ducks Unlimited Canada

James Fortune

They might want to do that, but we wouldn't partner with them on that, because it isn't delivering a science-based, high-quality outcome.

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Conservative Mississauga South, ON

Benefit to a wetland, for example.

June 16th, 2015 / 9:45 a.m.

Chief Operating Officer, Ducks Unlimited Canada

James Fortune

Right. If they're going to be affiliated with us and our brand, it has to be out there.

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Conservative Mississauga South, ON

It has to be highlighted.

Thank you.

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Harold Albrecht

Thank you very much, Ms. Ambler.

Mr. Bevington.

9:45 a.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Northwest Territories, NT

Thanks, Mr. Chair.

It's a very interesting discussion today.

Mr. Fortune, a number of changes have been made to the environmental assessment process in Parliament over the last four or five years. Did Ducks Unlimited present on that?

9:45 a.m.

Chief Operating Officer, Ducks Unlimited Canada

James Fortune

I don't know, honestly. I didn't.

Hold on a second.

Not formally, no.

9:45 a.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Northwest Territories, NT

We're talking about wetlands. The poster child for the anti-environmental assessment process was the drainage ditch that farmers would install in their fields. That was brought up many times in Parliament as being something that shouldn't be part of an environmental assessment. We're losing wetlands. What's the feeling of Ducks Unlimited on drainage ditches being taken out of the environmental assessment or any consideration of the impact of installing drainage ditches throughout wetland areas?

9:45 a.m.

Chief Operating Officer, Ducks Unlimited Canada

James Fortune

It shouldn't be a surprise to anybody that we conserve wetlands. We protect wetlands, so we are not fans of wetland drainage. Our mission is wetland conservation. We don't support wetland drainage.

When it comes to protecting wetlands on the working landscape, it is very challenging because of the levels of jurisdiction. The drainage ditch and the drainage issues are at the level of provincial legislation. As I've talked about earlier, our focus is to build those strong, effective policies at the provincial level to protect the base of wetlands on the landscape.