Evidence of meeting #16 for Environment and Sustainable Development in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was land.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Stephen Woodley  Co-Chair, WCPA-SSC Joint Task Force on Biodiversity and Protected Areas, International Union for the Conservation of Nature
Sigrid Kuehnemund  Lead Specialist, Oceans, World Wildlife Fund
Sue Feddema-Leonard  Executive Director, Willmore Wilderness Foundation
Eric Reder  Manitoba Campaign Director, Western Canada Wilderness Committee
Nadim Kara  Senior Program Director, Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada
John Masswohl  Director, Government and International Relations, Canadian Cattlemen's Association
Stephanie Brown  Environmental Manager, Willmore Wilderness Foundation

11 a.m.


The Chair (Mrs. Deborah Schulte (King—Vaughan, Lib.)) Liberal Deb Schulte

I call the meeting to order.

I'm going to start the meeting, and if our witnesses could just be patient for a second, I'd like to do some committee business that needs to be done, really quickly. We have circulated the subcommittee meeting results to everybody and we need to get them approved so that we can start moving.

What we did was come forward with an idea to have one more witness with us on the 17th. We tried to get the Pacific Salmon Foundation to join us, and they cannot, so to stay with the focus on the marine parks aspect, we went with West Coast Environmental Law, which was our second choice, and they can come. I just want to make sure everybody knows that.

The second thing was a frame for a possible trip in the late summer, right at the very beginning of the first week back—this is to give the clerk the opportunity to start scoping it out and seeing what it might look like and what the costs might be. I need approval from the committee to say that we're willing to entertain scoping this out and moving forward on investigating a possible trip for the protected areas. That is really the essence.

We also identified some more witnesses for subsequent meetings, shown on the list you have. It's not solid; it's just a projection of who we might try to bring forward for the next couple of weeks.

11 a.m.


Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

You also have something here, Madam Chair, about establishing a Facebook page for the committee.

11 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

We will have the clerk investigate that idea. She needed to know from the committee that there is an okay to investigate it and report back.

11 a.m.


Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Is it a requirement of committee members to like this page?

11 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

11 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

That I'll leave up to you, but that is probably a good idea.

11 a.m.


Darren Fisher Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Don't tell him it's a great question.

11 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

I'm going to move it along, because we have six witnesses and I want to make sure we have a good chance to ask questions.

As for Grande Cache, we're still working on trying to get them up.

I want to finish committee business so that we can move on to the meeting. I'm looking for someone to move concurrence in the subcommittee's report.

11 a.m.


Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

I'll move that.

May 12th, 2016 / 11 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

Adoption has been moved. All in favour?

(Motion agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

That's unanimous. Thank you very much for doing that.

I would like to move on to welcoming our witnesses.

We are having some technical difficulties. We are still trying to get one group up, which they are still working on. We'll see whether Western Canada Wilderness Committee can join us a little bit later.

Let me introduce everyone who is with us. We have two groups. The first is the World Wildlife Fund, and Sigrid Kuehnemund is with us, the lead specialist from oceans, as well as Kimberley Dunn, manager for national oceans governance. Thank you very much for being with us today.

We also have the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada, represented by Nadim Kara, senior program director, and Lesley Williams, senior manager for aboriginal affairs and resource development.

We thank you very much for joining us today.

By video conference we have Willmore Wilderness Foundation. They are up now.

We want to test whether you can hear us. Can you put your hands up, if you can hear us?

I don't see any hands up. We are not connected. We still have some technical difficulties.

Oh, I see two hands up. That's from the Canadian Cattlemen's Association; they can hear us. Thank you very much.

We will have to work on the other two.

Just to say who is with us on video conference, from the Canadian Cattlemen's Association we have Bob Lowe, the director, and Fawn Jackson, manager for environment and sustainability.

Thank you for joining us.

From the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, we have Stephen Woodley.

Oh, no. We just lost the ones we had.

We definitely have Stephen Woodley, and I appreciate your waving to let us know you are there.

We just have two on the video conference at the moment, and the other group is not.... If you can hear us, please wave again.

We will get going with the video conference group, because I don't want to lose you without hearing from you—if those who are with us don't mind being patient while we try to work with the video conference.

Let's start with Stephen Woodley, please.

Go ahead, start.

11:05 a.m.

Dr. Stephen Woodley Co-Chair, WCPA-SSC Joint Task Force on Biodiversity and Protected Areas, International Union for the Conservation of Nature

Thank you very much.

Thank you for the opportunity to present to the committee today. I hope the technology holds.

First, let me introduce myself. I've worked in the protected area world for well over 30 years as a scientist, as a manager for Parks Canada, and as a university researcher doing field work, and from 2001 to 2013 I was Parks Canada's first chief scientist.

I network with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, known as the IUCN; with the World Commission on Protected Areas; and with the Species Survival Commission. I want to be clear that today I'm speaking as an individual and not representing an IUCN position or a position of its commissions.

The first point I want to make is that protected areas are the key conservation tool to conserve nature. We have many tools, but these are the key ones used globally. There's considerable research to show that they're highly effective when they're well managed and well planned. That's simply because the biggest threat to biological diversity is habitat loss. Well-managed and well-designed protected areas effectively conserve habitat and species.

I think you've been told that Canada signed on to the Aichi biodiversity targets in 2010. Two years later, at the Convention on Biological Diversity conference, Canada agreed, and I'll quote this, to “undertake major efforts, with appropriate support to achieve all elements of Aichi Biodiversity Target 11”, which is the one on protected areas.

Six years into the plan, progress has been slow, so I am really delighted to see renewed interest and commitment from the committee and from Canadian governments to deliver on this promise that Canada made to the world.

Often people interpret target 11 as being only about achieving 17% on land and 10% on water, and this would be a misinterpretation of the target. It's also very much about protecting areas of particular importance to biodiversity and ecosystem services to ensure that these areas are effective and equitably managed, that they're ecologically representative, and that they work together as a well-connected system. Those elements are fundamental.

The second point I want to make is that target 11 is an interim target. We're supposed to achieve it by 2020, but nobody in the scientific community thinks it is sufficient to halt biodiversity loss—which the targets are designed to do—even if all countries in the world achieve the targets by 2020.

Target 11 is a politically realistic interim target. Ultimately, we're going to have to move towards scientifically based conservation targets in the future, if we're going to be successful, so it's wise to start thinking about that now.

Many countries in the world have already gone well beyond target 11—Brazil; the Czech Republic, where I am today; Costa Rica; Botswana; Austria; Colombia; and Spain, just to name a few.

With only 10% of our lands and less than 1% of marine areas currently protected, we're not on track to meet target 11 by 2020. That said, I think we can still get there if we ramp up our efforts. I'll try to lay out what I think are the fundamentals we need to get there.

First and foremost, we really need some strong federal leadership. Although this is going to have to be done in a partnership with first nations and governments at all levels, as well as civil society, ranchers, farmers, and loggers, I think there's going to have to be federal leadership to be successful.

Where would the federal leadership come from in this?

On land, there are two possibilities. The first, obviously, is Parks Canada. Parks Canada, however, has a mandate that's currently limited to conserving a representative example of each of Canada's natural regions. This systems plan dates back well over 40 years; it's not in keeping with modern conservation science. For that agency to lead, it would need a mandate change to focus on those elements of target 11 that I already mentioned.

I guess the other issue with the current Parks Canada set-up is that many of the older national parks are too small and isolated to be effective core areas in a national systems plan, so they're not functioning effectively as representative units.

Although Parks Canada has a very large budget, almost $1.2 billion, it only spends 7.9% of that on resource conservation in national parks and only 0.8% of it on establishing new parks or national marine conservation efforts. There would have to be a reorientation from that department.

The other option is for leadership from Environment Canada. Again, their protected areas program is small, and it has really languished over the last few decades. They run migratory bird sanctuaries and national wildlife areas. Few of their areas have current management plans, monitoring systems, or adequate staff. On average, they would not pass even a basic assessment of management effectiveness as laid out by the IUCN.

My first suggestion would be to give one of these organizations a clear mandate to lead federally, along with the corresponding resources and mandate change, but it's going to require a significant mandate shift in either case. There are pros and cons to both choices, but certainly clarity is required.

On the marine side, the federal government has clear jurisdiction through the Oceans Act, but there are challenges here too. The main piece of legislation for large representative areas is called the National Marine Conservation Areas Act, and unfortunately it establishes marine protected areas that do not meet the IUCN definition of “protected area”. That's because, although they're protected from oil and gas development, they're not protected from large-scale industrial fishing; that's optional. In spite of clear scientific evidence that having large no-take areas is fundamental for ocean conservation, we don't have.... Well, they do not meet that standard.

My second suggestion is that the Canadian NMC act would need significant strengthening in order to be a tool to help us meet target 11.

I want to turn briefly to the question of what counts, and I know this has come up before the committee already.

IUCN sets the global standard, along with UNEP, the United Nations Environment Programme and its World Conservation Monitoring Centre, to say what counts under our international obligations. It's very clear that a range of governance types can count under these guidelines. It includes private areas and indigenous protected areas, as well as the more traditional things such as national parks.

Canada's protected area system is currently tracked under a database called CARTS; that's the conservation areas reporting and tracking system. It's managed by an NGO called the Canadian Council on Ecological Areas and Environment Canada. It reports internationally, and it's a very good system. We're really lucky to have it.

The individual provinces and territories report through to CARTS. They have some different rules about what to count, and this has led to some confusion and perhaps a few inconsistencies, but I think this is a relatively easy problem to resolve. At the end of the day, I think it's important not to get bogged down on the counting system, on what counts; our focus should be on protecting nature, on making sure we can halt biodiversity loss. The target was meant to protect more habitat, not to recount existing programs. I would suggest that's what we need to stay focused on.

11:15 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

I'll let you know that you have about 30 seconds left in your 10 minutes. If you can, just bring it to a close.


11:15 a.m.

Co-Chair, WCPA-SSC Joint Task Force on Biodiversity and Protected Areas, International Union for the Conservation of Nature

Dr. Stephen Woodley

Okay. Then I want to focus on some solutions.

There are solutions available for systematic conservation planning. Probably the most applicable one for us is called Large Landscape Cooperatives. This is a program developed in the United States. It allows organizations that should be involved to self-organize around a pot of money and around an ecologically appropriate area. If we emulate that system, we have a chance of very high success, and those areas already come into Canada.

There are also other programs, such as the Yellowstone to Yukon program led by civil society and the Dehcho land use plan led by first nations, that give us clear examples of what we can do and need to do to be successful.

I'll stop there.

Thank you very much.

11:15 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

Thank you very much. I'm sure that in the questions we can probe some of that other information that you might want to share.

I'm going to go, just to solve some technical work.

Thank you so much for this. You obviously have a lot to share with us, and we want to hear it, but we have to move. We have six people who are supposed to talk today.

What we will do is move to one of the groups that is here. That will still give us a chance to solve technical problems, although we do now have the ladies from the Willmore Wilderness Foundation up with us.

Thank you, but we'll go to somebody in the room, and then we will come back to you.

Let's have the World Wildlife Fund. That would be Sigrid and Kimberley.

11:15 a.m.

Sigrid Kuehnemund Lead Specialist, Oceans, World Wildlife Fund

Thank you, Madam Chair.

My name is Sigrid Kuehnemund. I'm the lead specialist for oceans at WWF-Canada. With me today is Kimberley Dunn, our manager for national oceans governance. We're very excited to be here today to contribute to your study on protected areas.

For half a century the World Wildlife Fund has worked to protect the future of nature. WWF is Canada's largest international conservation organization, with the active support of more than 150,000 Canadians. We connect the power of a strong global network to on-the-ground conservation efforts, with offices in Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Halifax, St. John's, Iqaluit, and Inuvik.

Our mission is to stop the degradation of the planet's natural environment and to build a future in which humans can live in harmony with nature by ensuring the sustainable use of renewable natural resources, promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption, and conserving the world's biodiversity.

With our mission in mind, we'd like to talk to you about the role of marine protected areas as they relate to your study on federal protected areas and conservation objectives.

You've heard already about the Aichi target: 10% marine protection by 2020. WWF-Canada supports the government's commitment to reach this goal.

In terms of quantity, you know that only 1% of Canada's oceans are protected. In terms of quality, not all sites are highly protected or offer the level of protection needed to benefit habitats, species, and coastal communities.

Science shows that in order to be effective, MPAs should be “no take”, large—greater than 100 square kilometres—and well enforced. This isn't the case for MPAs in Canada right now. Less than 7% of the area covered by our existing MPAs qualifies as fully protected, meaning that no fishing or other extractive industries, such as mining or oil and gas development, are allowed. Many of our protected areas are small and are not actively managed.

We're pleased to hear testimony from DFO and Parks Canada about doing things differently moving forward: that MPAs will be bigger and will be established faster, with a renewed focus on creating networks of protected areas and integrating that protection in order to manage our oceans effectively.

We believe the government is now on the right track when it comes to MPAs, but we have some recommendations to help Canada do things right in reaching our marine conservation targets: ensuring minimum standards for marine protection, protecting what counts, respecting indigenous peoples, and providing better coordination and streamlining within government departments.

The first theme is developing minimum standards.

WWF-Canada believes that protected areas must be more than just lines on a map. Protecting biodiversity needs to be the main consideration when selecting sites. Minimum standards for protection must be set in advance for all protected areas, rather than separately for each area.

We recommend that offshore mining and oil and gas activities should not be permitted within MPA boundaries.

We also recommend that commercial fishing should be excluded from at least 50% of each MPA.

Canadians don't expect to see oil rigs in protected areas. The Laurentian Channel, for example, is a proposed marine protected area that would allow oil and gas activities within more than 80% of its borders, if it were designated today.

While we do want to reach protection targets, we need to ensure that protection is meaningful. If our MPAs do not have high standards, it's doubtful that we'll succeed in protecting biodiversity and in helping to sustain the fisheries that Canadians depend upon now and into the future.

Minimum standards are also key to developing co-operative and co-management frameworks with indigenous communities. Setting standards before sites are selected can provide certainty to stakeholders, including indigenous communities, and speed up the consultation process.

To ensure that our MPAs have high standards, they also need to have management plans and to be properly funded to allow for active management, monitoring, and enforcement.

To protect what counts, the goal should not only be to get 10% but also to choose the right 10%, through strong protection and proper siting. We should not lose sight of the need for networks in the race to get to 10% by 2020. Networks are systems of areas that can accomplish much more for species and habitats than each site can do alone. The Aichi target is much more than just a number. It also dictates that areas be conserved through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative, and well-connected systems.

While large MPAs are important, we must not simply designate vast expanses of the ocean that are not at risk from human use or that provide unproven or questionable ecological benefits at the expense of developing proper MPA networks. Canada's progress on MPA networks has to go further than developing a collection of sites without meaningful consideration of how they connect and complement each other, and without including representative coastal and offshore sites within all three oceans.

Government must not yield to political pressures. It must take those tough decisions and take a strong stance to protect areas offering the best biodiversity benefits.

Considerable effort must be made to respect indigenous rights while creating MPAs. We not only recognize the government's duty to consult, but also know that when nature thrives, people thrive. Victories for nature are also victories for people.

There is a particular need for caution for B.C.'s first nations and Canada's north. There is a great potential in the Arctic to assist Canada in achieving its objectives; however, we need an equitable and transparent financing formula for impact benefit agreements across all four Inuit land claim regions. These should be negotiated well in advance with Inuit representative organizations. Long-term financing must be secured to ensure progressive investments in community infrastructure to allow communities to manage and profit from marine conservation.

Streamlining government processes and working better together means streamlining regulatory processes for MPA designation and includes the need to speed up the development of mineral and energy resource assessments by NRCan and the preparation of MPA regulations, including work with the Department of Justice and the Treasury Board.

The federal family must work together on targets to support progress by DFO, Parks Canada, and Environment Canada to move the bar on MPAs and MPA networks. A coordinated approach will help with economic discussions with provincial governments and offshore petroleum boards and will possibly help with the designation of multiple sites at the same time.

I respect that time is limited and that there's much to talk about. I'd like to close by thanking the committee for the opportunity to present on this topic. WWF-Canada is pleased that our government is committed to protecting 10% of our oceans by 2020 within national and regional systems of marine protected areas. We recognize that a lot of work has been done, but a lot yet remains to be done to reach this goal.

We also recognize that the 10% by 2020 target is not an end point but rather a waypoint to something much greater, an opportunity to provide what science is telling us is needed to protect some of the richest and most unique and biodiverse underwater environments on our planet.

I'd be happy to take questions on the points I've raised or on other important issues, such as high standards for other effective measures and finding the balance between ecological value and socio-economic interests when selecting and designating MPAs.

Thank you.

11:25 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

Thank you very much, and thanks for coming in almost exactly on the 10 minutes. That was great.

I'm wondering whether the Willmore Wilderness Foundation can hear us. Can you hear us?

Oh, you're coming up now. Good.

If the witnesses with us here don't mind waiting, we'll get them up just while they're on, and we'll try to get their deposition.

Let's introduce the Willmore Wilderness Foundation. Sue Feddema-Leonard and Stephanie Brown are here with us today.

If you would like to get started, that would be great. You have 10 minutes.

11:25 a.m.

Sue Feddema-Leonard Executive Director, Willmore Wilderness Foundation

Thank you very much.

My name is Susan Feddema-Leonard, and I am with Stephanie Brown, who is our environmental manager. I've been working in the Willmore Wilderness Park area of Grand Cache for the past 35 years. It's an area directly north of Jasper National Park. I am the director of the Willmore Wilderness Preservation and Historical Foundation.

While we are not an environmental group, we are an historical group preserving the traditions and culture of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Our foundation incorporates the concept of managing the environment as one of its key principles.

Early explorers such as Alexander Mackenzie and David Thompson are legendary heroes in Canadian history. These men did not travel alone and were guided by French, Métis, and Indian guides who risked everything in their push westward. Many of these men were from the village of Kahnawake, near Montreal, and they were hired by the North West Company in their push westward.

In 1872, the Canadian census showed that Jasper House, which is just south of us, had 210 French half-breeds living there and 71 Shuswap Indians. Many of these Métis and French descendants travelled with Alexander Mackenzie on his journey north to the Arctic Ocean, as well as to Bella Coola on the Pacific Ocean.

Many of the descendants who live in this area are the descendants of the voyageurs who came west from eastern Canada. Their forefathers helped open Canada to make it what it is today in the spirit of trade and friendship. Many of these people homesteaded in the Athabasca valley, where Jasper is located, as well as in the Smoky River valley, where Grand Cache is located.

In 1907 the Canadian federal government signed an order in council to set aside the Jasper Forest Reserve, and the newly appointed wardens who arrived in the community removed these families, who had been there for over 100 years. The wardens did this by sealing the guns of everybody. The descendants of the founding fathers of Canada couldn't hunt to feed their children, so they had to leave the area after the guns were sealed.

They were removed into the Grande Cache area and to the Edson and Hinton areas surrounding Jasper, where they continued to hunt and fish and trap and live a traditional way of life until 1969, when the new town of Grande Cache was established.

I'm just going to read an excerpt out of the People & Peaks of Willmore Wilderness Park: 1800s to Mid-1900s:

During the 1940's and 1950's, oil and gas leases were awarded in what is now Willmore Wilderness Park. The Hinton and Jasper outfitters and trappers were getting worried about the roads that the oil and gas sector were inflicting on the mountain trails. Outfitter, Tom Vinson stated in a July 19, 2003 interview, “So we pressured Norman Willmore (MLA) to do something about the oil and gas exploration, and he did. He declared the area a wilderness park where trapping, hunting, and fishing would be permitted. That was all—no motor vehicles. That's what we wanted, of course.” Due to the fact that no oil of any consequence was discovered, the pressure from the oil and gas sector subsided when [the leases expired]. In 1959, Norman Willmore was instrumental in getting legislation passed to protect the area. This legislation is now known as the Willmore Wilderness Act, one of the most unique pieces of legislation in North America. Due to the lack of Government dollars to do infrastructure work, education and promotion of the Rocky Mountain park, the Willmore Wilderness Preservation & Historical Foundation was formed as a non-profit society registered under the Alberta Societies Act in 2002. The Foundation became a Registered Charitable Organization in 2003. The Foundation preserves the history of the area; focuses on the advancement of education of the park; restores historical pack trails and sites; and enhances the use of Willmore Wilderness Park for Albertans, Canadians and international visitors. Willmore Wilderness Park has a unique horseback culture, with traditions such as hunting and trapping; and a history that dates back to the Canadian Fur Trade. Travelling the old pack trails allows one to be independent and free to stop and make their home in a camp [anywhere they choose]; free to experience the sounds and beauty of the earth. The mountains give one the feeling of being at one with nature. Willmore Wilderness Park offers wide-open spaces that can be accessed by [either horseback] or by hiking. The area nurtures a man’s spirit, leaving one with a deep connection to the earth.

The Willmore Wilderness Foundation has a mandate of educating the public in skills that were used to survive in the mountains, as well as educational programs. Our organization is especially focused on educating the young. We raise money and host, on a free basis, horsemanship clinics, colt-starting clinics, horse-packing clinics, basic farrier clinics, trapper education, and chainsaw safety clinics.

Each year we offer a youth mentoring program in which we take aboriginal elders and old-time mountain men and mentor young people in the age-old traditions of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. We teach youth about edible and medicinal plants, where the trails are, how to track, how to pack, and how to survive off the land as their ancestors did.

The Willmore Wilderness Foundation has been in collaboration with many different provincial initiatives. We collaborated with the Alberta provincial carnivore specialist in carrying out a six-year grizzly bear survey and provided the province with the best collection of grizzly bear photos they had ever seen. We also work with the Alberta Trappers' Association in providing educational programs, and these programs are used as tools in game management. We also clear trails, clean up garbage, do GPS work, and photograph and film the region.

The Willmore Wilderness Foundation has written four books, featuring 64 first-person interviews of old-time mountain men and women. The foundation also owns and operates its own film production program, called People & Peaks Productions, which specializes in high-definition educational documentary films. We share stories about the history, culture, and traditions of our Rocky Mountain region.

I want to thank this committee for giving us the time to share some of the history and culture of Willmore Wilderness Park, which is one of Canada’s best-kept secrets. We are honoured to share with everybody here today, and I want to especially thank our MP, Mr. Jim Eglinski, and Jeannette Gasparini for inviting us to come to this and connecting with us. We share a unique perspective of the wilderness and of conservation and protection.

Thank you.

11:35 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

Thank you very much, and thanks for sharing with us another beautiful gem in the Canadian landscape that I certainly didn't know anything about. I appreciate your sharing it with us. It is another place I need to go.

We are going to move to the Western Canada Wilderness Committee and Eric Reder, because he is now with us and we do not want to lose him again.

We are having real trouble with the video conference today, so if both Nadim and Lesley are patient with us, we will go to the video witnesses as they are able to be reconnected, and then we'll come to you at the end, if you don't mind.

Thank you very much.

Eric, could you please start? Welcome. You have 10 minutes.

11:35 a.m.

Eric Reder Manitoba Campaign Director, Western Canada Wilderness Committee

Is my feed working?

11:35 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

Yes, we can hear you fine, thank you. Can you hear us?

11:35 a.m.

Manitoba Campaign Director, Western Canada Wilderness Committee

Eric Reder

Yes, I can hear you guys.

Thanks for having me in today. I am the Manitoba campaign director for the Wilderness Committee. The Wilderness Committee is the largest environmental citizens' group in the country that is member-based and citizen-funded. We believe in healthy nature and a healthy wilderness, and we support healthy communities in rural areas. That is what is going to sustain our well-being in Canada.

Our goal in the work we do is legislative protection for nature and wilderness. Speaking today to the committee, I will say that the simple, tough answer to the discussion regarding federal lands and their role in meeting Canada's targets to protect biodiversity is that we can't do it with the federal lands that exist. I am going to mention just a couple of species as an indication of problems that we would have.

One is the western chorus frog. In Ontario and Quebec, 2.8% and 8% of its habitat is on federal lands. Protecting that species, which is listed under the federal Species at Risk Act, couldn't be done only on federal lands.

Where I work, in Manitoba, there are no boreal woodland caribou on federal lands. There are 15 ranges and perhaps 5,000 animals in the province, or half that number, and we simply can't protect them with the work being done on federal lands.

What is left, then, in the view of the Wilderness Committee, is to look at the federal scheme of legislation and how we can apply the existing laws across Canada so that we can protect more of nature and wilderness.

With regard to the work that I have done in Manitoba, in 2013 we did a lot more work on the Navigable Waters Protection Act. Manitoba is filled with water, and when the Navigable Waters Protection Act was cut and its effect was limited to certain water bodies, a lot of the water in Manitoba was no longer protected. Of course, what went along with the Navigable Waters Protection Act was the gutting of the Fisheries Act. We have a document in Manitoba that was produced by the provincial government, which was used for industrial development on crown lands, public lands. It called out two pieces of legislation that were used to address actions around streams and stream crossings, and those two pieces of legislation were the Navigable Waters Protection Act and the Fisheries Act. We don't have provincial legislation that works on water, because there has always been federal protection.

Backing up a little, there are two things that transcend provincial borders and become federal jurisdiction. They are water and species—and air, of course, as well. They don't pay attention to provincial boundaries. That is why the federal government's role in protecting water has been so essential, and now that we have had a rollback on federal water protection, why it is essential that we have that protection replaced and in fact increased.

You can envision Manitoba as being downstream from everywhere, and Lake Winnipeg being a catch basin for water coming from the Rocky Mountains, from the south in the United States, and from Ontario. Everything flows downstream to Winnipeg, so everything that happens in all these other jurisdictions—Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario—affects Lake Winnipeg and the waters we have here, and of course, the rivers flowing up into Hudson Bay.

The decisions the Saskatchewan government makes about what they want to do with their water and what type of developments they are allowing along their shorelines affect Manitoba. We have no jurisdiction in Manitoba to say to Saskatchewan, “We want you to do something different.” What we need is for the federal government to have a strong hand in protecting our waters.

It is the same for Ontario. If things are happening in Ontario, we don't have any say in what happens there. We really need the federal government to protect the waters we have.

There's another piece of legislation that the federal government works on, the heritage rivers system. In 2006 the Hayes River was designated as a heritage river. That's a federal designation.

To preserve biodiversity, to protect the environment, and to work on our protected areas goals, the heritage river system could be, I suppose, improved. The protections it allows could be increased, perhaps protecting riparian areas. In a few instances in Manitoba, we look at protecting one and a half kilometres on either side of a river. That riparian area is far richer in biodiversity, especially in bird species, than most other forest areas. The federal government's protection or expansion of the heritage river system would be a real boon to protected areas goals in Canada.

I guess I should step back again. My notes aren't quite in order; I've been working on a few other campaigns.

We have two goals that we'd like to talk about.

In Manitoba, we've just published a report called “Keep it Wild! A Conservation Vision for Manitoba”. It comes out today. At the United Nations, one of the initiatives is a global goal of protecting 17% of lands and waters by 2020. The previous Manitoba government signed on to that, or decided that they were going to meet that goal. The wilderness committee has been calling for years for a further goal of 20% by 2020, and this conservation vision that we've just published lays out exactly how we would go forward in doing that.

Federally, across Canada we're sitting at around 10% for protected lands. We believe that hitting the 17% goal by 2020 is the right thing to do, and there are ways, by conservation agreements with the province and in some of the legislation that I'll talk about, for us to do that.

The second goal is about the boreal forest. It is a large supplier, I guess, of the things that we need in life. It's a carbon sink. It's one of the greatest sources of fresh water in the world, and we have vast sections of it. Scientists have been saying that 50% of the boreal forest needs to be protected in order for us to continue to get the sorts of building blocks of life that come out of the boreal forest. The wilderness committee has qualified that statement by saying that we really need to ensure that 50% of the biologically rich and culturally important areas of the boreal forest are protected.

We have two goals here. People have said that nature needs half—that's one organization—but 50% of the boreal forest and 17% of our lands in general need to be protected. Of course, in Manitoba you have a lot of provincial public land, or crown land, as it's referred to, and there are opportunities for protection, but that's not the case across Canada. As we get into developed regions of the country, we see that a lot of the land has been developed for agriculture, and the existence of nature really only occurs in ditches and small forested areas that haven't been plowed under. The last federal government abrogated its responsibility to protect some of the natural lands that we had when they got rid of the community pastures. In Manitoba alone, that meant 25 pastures and about 400,000 hectares.

If that federal land were still under the control of the federal government, conservation agreements could be written. There are agreements written for places like the Langford community pasture in Manitoba. It allows the land to be used for intensive grazing, and that's how the grasslands of that region would have lasted. That would have been the natural process as herds of bison had gone through. It would require some prescribed burns to keep the woody species down, but it would also improve the biological diversity. In terms of agricultural land in the developed regions, these sections of federal land that existed are the exact sort of thing that we need to look at to preserve nature and wilderness and meet the protected areas goals in Canada.

11:45 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

You have about 30 seconds to wrap it up.

11:45 a.m.

Manitoba Campaign Director, Western Canada Wilderness Committee

Eric Reder

Thank you.

The Species at Risk Act is one of the strongest things that the federal government can enforce. The Species at Risk Act requires the federal government to ensure that species are protected. I've mentioned the chorus frog and the woodland caribou. Of course, the legal case on the sage grouse is showing that the federal government has a requirement to step in and manage when the provinces aren't managing this properly.

The federal government needs to take a more active role in looking at the science, the recovery strategies, and the action plans that are handed up to the federal government from the provinces, because sometimes they're done on a socio-economic basis and look at what it means for rural development, when in reality the Species at Risk Act has to look at the science. The hard decisions about socio-economic need to be made in public and made through the cabinet and the federal government in a public manner.

I'm going to finish off with that: one of the things the federal government can do is improve the Species at Risk Act and enforce the legislation that already exists.

Thank you.

11:45 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

Thank you very much. I appreciate all of what you shared with us today.

We are still having some trouble reaching the Cattlemen's Association, so we're going to go back to those who are in the room.

The Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada is with us today.

Nadim and Lesley, if you could get started that would be fantastic. Thank you.

11:50 a.m.

Nadim Kara Senior Program Director, Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada

Good afternoon, Madam Chair and committee members. Thank you for this opportunity to speak here today.

For those of you who are not familiar with the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada, or PDAC, we represent the Canadian mineral exploration and development industry. Our mandate is to support a competitive and responsible industry both at home and abroad, so that our members can continue to discover and develop deposits of the minerals and metals that make modern life possible.

I'd like to begin our conversation today by outlining some of the factors that have helped Canada become a top global destination for mineral exploration investment. This will lead into some reflections on how the ability or inability to access mineral-rich areas can affect the investment decisions that are made by exploration and mining companies. Then, with that context in mind, I'll put forward some basic principles that PDAC hopes will guide federal decision-making processes with respect to the creation of protected areas. I'll conclude with a short discussion of how important it is to find the right balance between conservation and economic development.

As many of you know, Canada is actually a world leader in all aspects of the minerals industry, but particularly exploration. The industry is cyclical, however, and we are currently in the midst of one of the most prolonged downturns in Canadian history. I'll share just one stat to illustrate this. In 2012, over $27 billion Canadian was spent around the world on mineral exploration. In 2015, that number had fallen to just over $11 billion.

Countries compete to attract that investment in order to support the discovery of mineral deposits that might eventually become a mine. Canada and Australia have both been very successful at attracting exploration investment, with Australia currently attracting the largest share of global exploration budgets. It may interest you to know that Canada's share of non-ferrous mineral exploration—that's not including iron, potash, and uranium—has dropped from around 21% to around 14%.

There are a lot of different factors that influence how attractive Canadian jurisdictions are at attracting that investment and those mineral exploration budgets. Canada's geologic endowment is one of our primary competitive advantages over other countries. To capitalize on that advantage, mineral-rich areas need to be open for exploration in order to increase the probability of making a discovery.

One of the points I'd like to impress upon you today is just how difficult and rare it is to actually find economically viable mineral deposits. While there are a lot of mineral deposits in the earth's crust, most are low-quality deposits that are not worth mining. About one in 10,000 exploration projects leads to an actual mine, so the extent to which the land base is actually open will profoundly influence the probability of finding a deposit that could actually become a producing mine.

Not surprisingly, the availability of prospective land also profoundly influences the investment decisions that are made by companies. The geologic potential of a country or jurisdiction accounts for about 60% of the weighting with respect to CEO decisions about where they wish to explore and where they choose to explore. As land withdrawals remove accessibility to prospective areas, Canada becomes a less attractive place to explore, and companies go elsewhere.

Without exploration there aren't new discoveries, and without new discoveries there would eventually be no new mines. This would then mean a loss of the high-paying jobs, business development opportunities, and revenue flows to both communities and governments that are associated with production.

Notwithstanding the importance of land access to sustaining the existence of the industry in Canada and the economic benefits that it generates, PDAC does recognize that there is a diverse range of values associated with the use of land in Canada. We understand that governments must balance these values when making land use decisions, such as the establishment of protected areas. In order to achieve this balance, we believe that land use planning and land withdrawal decisions should be made through processes that are transparent, inclusive, evidence-based, flexible, and holistic.

By “transparent”, we mean that the process by which a decision is made should be clear to all parties and outlined well in advance.

By “inclusive”, we mean the use of multi-stakeholder and aboriginal consultation processes to develop proposals around the establishment of protected areas. Ideally, these would unfold within land use planning and community visioning processes, as are currently taking place in the Northwest Territories and Ontario.

By “evidence-based”, we mean that all decisions should have sound rationales drawn from adequate data as well as from the input from meaningful multi-stakeholder dialogues.

By “holistic”, we mean that decisions should be based on a comprehensive set of information that is comprised of environmental, social, and economic data, including traditional aboriginal knowledge. Economic data should include information on mineral and energy potential as well as other potential economic development opportunities, such as forestry. The interplay between these different types of information is more likely to lead to a sound policy decision.

By “flexible”, the last point, we mean that the process used to create new protected areas and other types of land withdrawals should contain built-in mechanisms for periodic review. The importance of building in flexibility cannot be overstated. For example, 30 years ago nobody would have believed that diamonds could be discovered in Canada. If those diamond-rich parts of the country had been withdrawn without the capacity to go back and reassess those decisions, the lost economic opportunities, for aboriginal communities in particular, would have been profound.

An example of a formal process that incorporates many of those principles is the federal mineral and energy resource assessment process, MERA, which is undertaken whenever a federal national park is proposed. We hope that a similar process would be established for further federal protected areas.

The PDAC also recommends to consider avoiding complete bans on all forms of economic activity unless it is absolutely crucial in protecting critical ecological or cultural areas. Exploration and mining can potentially unfold even near sensitive areas, with appropriate restrictions and mitigation measures. The Prairie Creek project, which is in the middle of Nahanni National Park, is a great example. Conservation and development may not be mutually exclusive if the right regulatory safeguards are in place.

There may be some parties who would prefer not to have mineral potential factored into the decision-making process, arguing that the protection of Canada's natural landscapes and biodiversity should outweigh any economic opportunities that might be lost. In our view, this would be a short-sighted approach to decision-making, in three important ways.

First, the world needs the minerals and metals that we discover in order to improve quality of life globally.

Second, the world also needs those products if it is going to make the transition to a low-carbon economy. Mined materials are crucial for the batteries for electric vehicles and power storage, solar panels, and the rare-earth magnets used in electric cars and wind turbines.

Finally, exploration and mining companies are often the only private sector organizations that are creating economic opportunities in remote, rural, northern, and aboriginal communities.

Recently there was a report by an environmental organization that suggested the Sahtu community in the Northwest Territories should abandon its interest in mining and energy. The Tulita District Land Corporation, which is in the Sahtu region of the NWT, responded with the following statement, which I think is worth sharing today:

There are those who tell us we should turn our backs on industrial development and focus instead on tourism, arts and crafts, forestry, and agriculture. The world is now in the early days of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and yet some apparently want us to return to times from before the First. We cannot do this. Our youth cannot do this. We want to live and work in a rapidly changing modern [environment] and our companies, our families and our governments need income to accomplish that goal. Growing potatoes won’t do it. Developing our petroleum resources will.

We cannot forget the human dimension of land use planning when making decisions about protected areas. An integrated approach is the only way to balance different land use values for current and future generations.

The PDAC looks forward to ongoing dialogue with the Government of Canada on how to establish protected areas while maintaining Canada's position as a top destination for investment in the minerals industry.

Thank you again for your time. I and my colleague, Lesley Williams, are happy to answer further questions at the right time.