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

10:05 a.m.

Chief Operating Officer, Ducks Unlimited Canada

James Fortune

We've done some research on the economics of our specific projects and we'll provide it to the committee. There's not just an ecological outcome but also an economic impact.

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Excellent.

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Harold Albrecht

I'm just going to take one minute, if I can, committee members, for a question to Mr. Butler.

You mentioned the Colin Stewart Forest Forum area, and the partnership between environmental NGOs and the four largest forestry partners. I loved your statement, “The industry was looking for more certainty around wood supply and the environmental groups for more certainty around land protection. It worked.”

Are you familiar with, or are you partnering with, the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement group? Are you familiar with them? Can you just give me a short answer to that?

10:05 a.m.

Policy Director, Ecology Action Centre

Mark Butler

I'm familiar, but we're not part of them, because we have very little boreal in Nova Scotia.

It's a similar model.

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Harold Albrecht

I just became aware of their model recently. I'm hoping that we can encourage more private industry groups to be involved in NGOs and groups like this that are actually trying to find cooperative solutions.

Mr. Sopuck.

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

Mr. Fortune, I'll just follow up on the line of questioning of my colleague Mr. Toet. The major issue on the privately owned landscape, quite frankly, is that these wetlands on the privately owned landscape deliver public goods, but those public goods are at a private cost. That's essentially the conundrum, isn't it, the policy nut that we have to crack?

10:05 a.m.

Chief Operating Officer, Ducks Unlimited Canada

James Fortune

That's one way to frame it.

The producers and agriculturalists are trying to make a living, and they're accessing all the land they can to do that.

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

There is an important qualification to what I said. We can't lump all types of agriculture together the way I just did. I find that cattle ranchers, for instance, actually prefer having wetlands on their lands, and so I find in many cases the anti-beef rhetoric quite disturbing. Quite frankly, extensive cattle ranching is probably the most ecologically sound form of agriculture that there is.

Would you agree with that?

10:10 a.m.

Chief Operating Officer, Ducks Unlimited Canada

James Fortune

That would be second only to maple syrup production.

10:10 a.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

That's fair enough, but would you not say that?

10:10 a.m.

Chief Operating Officer, Ducks Unlimited Canada

James Fortune

Sorry. I have an old-growth maple forest.

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Harold Albrecht

Just to take advantage of my position as chair, I'll say that the world's largest one-day maple syrup festival is in my riding, in the town of Elmira.

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

I apologize to the committee for bringing it up.

10:10 a.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

Mr. Fortune, again, I want to follow Mr. McKay's lines of questioning, which were very interesting, with regard to the fact that this landscape conservation work, which government funds and you people do, simply does not get the credit in terms of carbon offsets.

Can you talk about the carbon sequestration ability of the grasslands that Ducks Unlimited conserves?

10:10 a.m.

Chief Operating Officer, Ducks Unlimited Canada

James Fortune

I can in general. Grasslands sequester carbon by the nature of the fact that they exist. When they're converted to other uses, that carbon is released. In our conservation programs, generally for every one acre of wetlands that we secure, we get at least three acres of grassland. There's a nice complex leveraging nature in conservation issues like that.

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

You said as well that the issue, especially on the prairie landscape that I'm familiar with, is largely one of scale. We know it needs to be done out there; it's the kind of programming that would be super effective on a large-scale watershed basis.

We haven't got the scale yet. Is that a fair comment?

10:10 a.m.

Chief Operating Officer, Ducks Unlimited Canada

James Fortune

There are a couple of things.

If you want to go community supported, engaging producers and getting everyone on board, there is not a program that runs right across the whole prairie landscape.

If we wanted to protect everything that's there, that becomes a regulatory approach through the provincial governments. That kind of thing can be implemented, at scale, by regulation and policies.

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

Mr. Butler, in terms of the region you come from, what is your assessment of the state of the environmental quality there, and could you provide some quantifiable environmental indicators? I don't need exact numbers, but be as quantitative as you can in terms of the state of the environment in your region.

June 16th, 2015 / 10:10 a.m.

Policy Director, Ecology Action Centre

Mark Butler

That's a big question, and I don't know if I can provide numbers off the top of my head.

In terms of European settlements, Atlantic Canada is one of the earliest settled areas, and we've been fishing and farming and cutting down trees for a long time out here. We don't have a lot of the pristine wilderness that exists in B.C. or some of the northern areas. Most of our forest has been cut over; you know what's happened to our fishery, etc.

At the same time—and I really don't know how this is going to play out—we're seeing a lot of rural depopulation, which I find concerning. I don't know what that's going to mean for the environment overall. Of course, when it comes to birds, and ducks would be included in this—or many fish species—they're migratory. A lot of our birds spend the winter in Mexico and other smart places like that, or our fish move into U.S. waters during the winter months.

I'm sorry; I can't give you numbers.

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

That's fine. Thank you very much.

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Harold Albrecht

Mr. McKay, please.

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Well I have to say that those migratory birds are a lot smarter than MPs.

I think if you sought it, Chair, we might have unanimous consent to decamp the committee to Mexico, for February and March at least. We need to do a study.

10:10 a.m.

An hon. member

We could do a video conference.