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

9:45 a.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Northwest Territories, NT

Of course the fisheries legislation was altered as well, which played out on some of the drainage areas.

Are there fewer wetlands in Canada today than there were 10 years ago?

9:45 a.m.

Chief Operating Officer, Ducks Unlimited Canada

James Fortune

It depends where you are. In some municipalities, yes, that is truly the case. If you went into the northern landscapes and all the crown and public lands, which are owned and managed by crown authorities, they're pretty well in existence there, and there may even be more because of the behaviour of beavers—

9:45 a.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Northwest Territories, NT

What about the flyways? That would be your major area of concern, maintaining the flyways.

9:45 a.m.

Chief Operating Officer, Ducks Unlimited Canada

James Fortune

Yes, in the breeding landscapes. That would be the Prairies and southern Ontario, where we have the greatest presence of industry and significant economic activity. We still see ongoing losses, yes, generally speaking.

9:45 a.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Northwest Territories, NT

Are those significant losses?

9:45 a.m.

Chief Operating Officer, Ducks Unlimited Canada

James Fortune

Yes, they are.

9:45 a.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Northwest Territories, NT

If we're going to have a conservation landscape, we need some control over the existing wetlands. Would that be—

9:45 a.m.

Chief Operating Officer, Ducks Unlimited Canada

James Fortune

That's been our approach working with governments, but realizing that to have effective control, the communities have to support it. If we get too far ahead with legislation and these prescriptions and things, we find that the regulators and the communities they're made up of don't support them.

9:50 a.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Northwest Territories, NT

I live in a community. There are people who are vocal, and then there are people who aren't vocal.

When you say “communities”, do you mean the ones that speak up or the ones that don't speak up? That's a really tricky answer, when you say the communities support.... If the communities don't have the knowledge of what's happening, how can you give that support any credibility?

9:50 a.m.

Chief Operating Officer, Ducks Unlimited Canada

James Fortune

What we work in is a political system. We're very practical about that. As we're advocating for wetland policies, we're pushing on this: if you must destroy wetlands and take them off the landscape, there has to be mitigation and offsetting.

9:50 a.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Northwest Territories, NT

I want to speak a bit about the project in the oil sands to get a sense of the scope of what happened there. Did they invest in a similar land quantum to what they're taking up in the oil sands?

9:50 a.m.

Chief Operating Officer, Ducks Unlimited Canada

James Fortune

The project I talked about is just southwest of Calgary, and it's about 6,000 acres in size—very large. It's not in the oil sands landscape.

9:50 a.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Northwest Territories, NT

But it was an oil sands company.

June 16th, 2015 / 9:50 a.m.

Chief Operating Officer, Ducks Unlimited Canada

James Fortune

Sure, it's Shell. They work in the oil sands. They work—

9:50 a.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Northwest Territories, NT

It wasn't directed towards a particular—

9:50 a.m.

Chief Operating Officer, Ducks Unlimited Canada

9:50 a.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Northwest Territories, NT

Okay. Thanks very much.

9:50 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Harold Albrecht

Thank you, Mr. Bevington.

Mr. Toet, please.

9:50 a.m.

Conservative

Lawrence Toet Conservative Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Thank you, Mr. Chair. Thank you to our two guests this morning, Mr. Fortune and Mr. Butler.

Mr. Fortune, I want to pick up on the line of questioning from Mr. Bevington in regard to the stick and carrot approach and which one's more effective.

In the work you do at Ducks Unlimited I know you also work on the education factor, starting with our young people. I understand you also do work with those who are on the working landscape, the agricultural community specifically, say in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Are you seeing, through that educational aspect, a change in approach, in attitude over time on their desire to be part of the solution on some of these wetland rehabilitations and reclamations?

9:50 a.m.

Chief Operating Officer, Ducks Unlimited Canada

James Fortune

Yes, I would say so. Overall the whole agriculture sector and the development sector are far more aware of their environmental responsibility and impact. I would say yes, overall there's a growing awareness and greater engagement.

9:50 a.m.

Conservative

Lawrence Toet Conservative Elmwood—Transcona, MB

In terms of programs such as ALUS, alternative land use services, and the expansion and growth of those types of programs, do you have the sense that there would be a fairly strong uptake from the agricultural community on those? Would there be strong buy-in? Would they say, yes, we understand we have an obligation but there is also societal good that's being accomplished out of this, there's a twofold purpose behind it? Would they be willing to engage in that?

9:50 a.m.

Chief Operating Officer, Ducks Unlimited Canada

James Fortune

I'm a farmer myself, also. In the agricultural communities I operate in and work with, there's quite an element of partnership and a long history of partnering with all governments and all kinds of agricultural programs. If there's a well-developed program that has a good scientific basis and has some opportunities for producers and landowners to receive payments that are, I would say, responsible, then yes, I think there would be uptake.

9:50 a.m.

Conservative

Lawrence Toet Conservative Elmwood—Transcona, MB

As we see the development of that, you talked about carbon sequestration and the flooding aspect, which I think are all important aspects of the wetlands. Can you also speak to the nutrient loading and the ability for them to absorb nutrients, so that instead of running directly into our lakes such as Lake Winnipeg and the basin there we have the ability to actually absorb those nutrients and stop them from creating our algae blooms and issues we would have in our lakes systems?

9:50 a.m.

Chief Operating Officer, Ducks Unlimited Canada

James Fortune

Yes, that's another one of the significant ecological benefits of wetlands. We've studied that in Ontario as well as in the watershed around Lake Winnipeg. We have the data that frames just how much nutrient is going in because of the loss of wetlands.

9:55 a.m.

Conservative

Lawrence Toet Conservative Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Is that data being provided now and shared with those who are working on lakes systems, like the Lake Winnipeg Basin Initiative?