Evidence of meeting #17 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 biodiversity.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Rick Bates  Acting Chief Executive Officer and Executive Vice-President, Canadian Wildlife Federation
Ben Chalmers  Vice-President, Sustainable Development, Mining Association of Canada
Aran O'Carroll  Executive Director, Secretariat, Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement
Kimberly Lisgo  Conservation Planning Team Lead, Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement
Kate Lindsay  Director, Conservation Biology, Forest Products Association of Canada
Linda Nowlan  Staff Counsel, West Coast Environmental Law Association
David Browne  Director of Conservation, Canadian Wildlife Federation

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

Sorry; we lost Kate, but now we have her back.

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

When I read through that act, I see that it talks about land use, especially in relation to endangered species, and they have a 95% land use formula in there. I'd like you to comment on this.

What I found in my area was that when that act was written, they never took into consideration the history and they never took into consideration provincial programs. Most of the provinces in western Canada run cut lines through their forest areas for eventual forest fires, such as the one we had in Fort McMurray. When you bring SARA into consideration, any time there is a cut line, you have to go 1,500 feet on each side of that cut line, which is said to be disturbed land, and if you start taking cut lines going right and left, a lot of the land that is not occupied and has not been occupied and is owned through forestry tenures cannot be used because SARA has been brought into play.

Would you like to comment on that, Kate?

1:15 p.m.

Director, Conservation Biology, Forest Products Association of Canada

Kate Lindsay

I was just disconnected for a bit.

Are you talking about the caribou recovery plan with the 500-metre buffer?

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Yes, I am.

1:15 p.m.

Director, Conservation Biology, Forest Products Association of Canada

Kate Lindsay

Actually, through the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement, we're looking at implementing the federal recovery strategy. There were a couple of opportunities within the federal recovery strategy and the scientific assessment which talk about perhaps some regional variation and how that federal recovery can be implemented.

One of our groups in Saskatchewan is looking at variable buffer distance, so in some instances where it is beneficial, the buffer could be expanded. In other instances it could be lessened without impacting the integrity of the objectives of that habitat protection. Some flexibility in how that's applied across Canada is helpful, and using a science-based approach to making those decisions is the approach we're taking.

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

Thank you very much. That's great.

Mr. Stetski is next.

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Stetski NDP Kootenay—Columbia, BC

I have a quick comment on mine sites. One of the reasons there are sometimes significant populations on mine sites is that they're often no-hunting zones as well.

I have a little different approach and I'll address my question to the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement, Aran or Kimberly, and then to West Coast Environmental Law.

In the end, one of the things we have to do is convince Canadians the targets that are set are appropriate, whether they're 10%, 17%, or, in the case of the boreal forest, 50%, and from West Coast Environmental Law, the 30%-35% for marine. What sort of messaging do you use to convince Canadians these are the right targets?

1:20 p.m.

Executive Director, Secretariat, Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement

Aran O'Carroll

Thank you for your question.

The point we're trying to make is that we're taking a science-based approach and looking to the science to help us inform what the conservation outcomes should be in particular landscapes across the boreal. A focus on that science is critically important, not just for decision-makers but also for the public, to understand that the approach we're taking is science informed and that we're engaging with aboriginal communities in those landscapes and working collaboratively with industry to find solutions that are going to ensure continued prosperous sustainable development in those landscapes.

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Stetski NDP Kootenay—Columbia, BC

The marine target is 30% to 35%. What sort of messaging do you think we should be using with Canadians to convince them that those are appropriate targets?

1:20 p.m.

Staff Counsel, West Coast Environmental Law Association

Linda Nowlan

I echo Aran. It would be the scientists saying that these targets are necessary to sustain the ecosystems on which human and natural life depends.

Oceans provide climate regulation, the oxygen we breath, food and food security. They are a source of wonder, culture, and spiritual strength. Also, of course, you've got to include in your message the importance of a healthy ocean for ocean-dependent economies. A UBC fisheries economic research unit calculated the value of industries on the north coast that depend on a healthy ocean and came up with over $1 billion of revenue being generated annually from industries that rely on a healthy ocean. That definitely has to be part of the message as well.

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

Mr. Browne wants to throw in a quick word, and then we're going to have to cut it off.

1:20 p.m.

Director of Conservation, Canadian Wildlife Federation

David Browne

From our perspective, both those goals recognize the intrinsic value of wildlife and our natural areas, so they're aspirational. As somebody mentioned earlier, we need to set strong aspirational goals regardless of science; ethically, we want to be protecting wildlife and habitat.

Some of those goals are targets to shoot for. It's not just a science. I'm a scientist, so I may be shooting myself a bit here, but it isn't just a scientific argument. It's difficult to make the argument, because it varies from place to place, that 50% is absolutely enough. It may not be, it may be, but from a public perception, as an aspiration of what Canada is doing, we need to set those kinds of goals that are likely to achieve good benefits and try to meet them. That's more the kind of messaging we would use with Canadians: that this is a great thing for Canada and for you, and it's going to ensure wildlife for future generations here in our country.

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

We've come to the end of our second round of questioning. We have a few minutes until half past. If the committee wants, we can do three minutes each side to go at it one more time. Because the witnesses have been so patient in coming back, I'm willing to do that if you guys would like that.

Does anybody want to ask any more questions?

Go ahead, Mr. Amos.

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

William Amos Liberal Pontiac, QC

This is a question that need not be answered now unless you have a prepared answer. We've asked other witnesses to comment on how they feel federal leadership could or should be exercised, whether through coordination or through the structuring of a pan-Canadian approach to protected areas.

This idea has come up, and we have invited other witnesses to comment on what the federal government could do to show leadership and to help guide multiple levels of government, including indigenous, municipal, and provincial governments. How could the federal government lead, not to take over the discussion but to bring it to more frequent and large-scale successful conclusions?

1:25 p.m.

Executive Director, Secretariat, Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement

Aran O'Carroll

I'll jump in there.

I think the convening capability of the federal government is very important. A couple of the speakers spoke about the species at risk advisory council, for instance, which was a council specific to the question of species at risk and was widely respected and did good work. That's one example of the convening function that the federal government can play to pull those parties that you named together to enable conservation and to support a conversation. That is one particular mechanism, I think.

1:25 p.m.

Vice-President, Sustainable Development, Mining Association of Canada

Ben Chalmers

I'll add to that. I completely agree with Aran. I think convening is important. We saw this government do it so far fairly effectively on climate change. A similar approach here would be good. This is an area of shared jurisdiction with the provinces, so bringing the provinces and the federal government together to address this issue in a collaborative approach would be important.

Aran mentioned the species at risk advisory committee. I mentioned it in my remarks earlier in regard to bringing back multi-stakeholder bodies like that. Another one was the former regulatory advisory committee, which provided a multi-stakeholder dialogue space for other environmental protection acts like CEAA. Reinstating those would be a really important thing to do.

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Darren Fisher Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Could you please repeat the first part? Just kidding.

1:25 p.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

William Amos Liberal Pontiac, QC

Could I ask for just a simple yes or no? Does it seem like a reasonable idea to contemplate combining intergovernmental efforts around species and habitat with intergovernmental efforts around conservation and protected areas?

1:25 p.m.

Executive Director, Secretariat, Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement

Aran O'Carroll

Absolutely.

May 17th, 2016 / 1:25 p.m.

Vice-President, Sustainable Development, Mining Association of Canada

1:25 p.m.

Director of Conservation, Canadian Wildlife Federation

1:25 p.m.

Staff Counsel, West Coast Environmental Law Association

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

That's yes all round. Thank you.

Mr. Shields.

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

Martin Shields Conservative Bow River, AB

Thank you, Madam Chair.

I think we understand that the position from West Coast Environmental is “Quick, do it now.” Just quickly going around, though, on this consultation, to get to what Mr. Stetski said, if we want to move to that bigger number, can you do that in a hurry, or do you need to undertake consultation? If we're talking about multiple levels and getting everybody in the room to buy in, can you do it tomorrow?