Conservation Questions for Candidates in the 2015 Newfoundland and Labrador Election

Nature NL sent the following questions to each of the provincial parties for the upcoming 2015 Newfoundland and Labrador election. Below are the responses we’ve received so far. We do not make recommendations or endorsements of any party for political office. These questions are meant for clarification of position on a variety of environmental issues. We ask that you consider their responses when you vote on November 30th.

 

1. Despite currently low oil and commodity prices, royalties from oil and gas and mineral development will still mean profits for the province for years to come. These developments continue to have impacts on our environment. If elected, will you invest a portion of these profits into a Newfoundland and Labrador Environmental Trust, such as exists in other provinces, in order to fund conservation, remediation and stewardship in the province?

 

Liberal Party Response: A New Liberal Government will be open to considering the best way to provide sustained funding for organizations that work on environmental issues. To provide more stable support to community organizations, we have committed to multi-year funding arrangements. This will allow organizations to work on important issues facing our province, rather than spending valuable time on funding applications every year. With multi-year funding agreements, community organizations can improve the effectiveness of their programs, and have a stronger basis for securing funding from other sources We understand the valuable work done by organizations throughout the province in terms of conservation, remediation and stewardship. Government support for these organizations is paid back to the province through the many benefits that are realized through their efforts.

 

NDP Response: Thank you for reaching out to us concerning our environment policies. You raise a number of important issues that deserve careful consideration. We would be happy to sit down with you after November 30 to discuss the points in your letter. In the meantime, I am attaching a copy of our platform; please take the time to review the sustainability portion of our platform, which is outlined on pages 14 and 15. In it, we pledge to support the creation of marine protected areas, implementation of the Protected Areas Strategy for the province’s 35 eco-regions and to review the province’s forest ecosystem management regulations to ensure that biodiversity is maintained. We also commit to keeping parks public and doubling provincial funding for the East Coast Trail, in order to ensure protection of our most beautiful areas and provide accessible and affordable recreation to all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.  Read the NDP Platform here.

 

PC Party Response: No response.

 

 

 

2. The previous federal government weakened environmental legislation, such as habitat protection under the Fisheries Act, cut programs such as the Canadian Environmental Network that engaged and encouraged citizen involvement in environmental monitoring, and reduced environmental research and protection in this province. If your party forms the next provincial government what concrete steps will you take to work with federal and municipal levels and citizens to identify and fix shortfalls in environmental monitoring and protection?

 

Liberal Party Response: Environmental issues cross jurisdictions – it’s one of the things that makes environmental management challenging. Time and time again, whether it has been addressing the potential for an oil spill from the sunken Manolis L, or cleaning up abandoned drill sites in Port au Port Bay, we have seen the PC Government shirk its responsibilities. Liberals believe that when there is a serious environmental situation, it is not good enough for our government to simply say it is someone else’s problem.

There needs to be more communication between the provincial and federal governments on environmental matters, especially when concerned citizens bring an environmental issue to their provincial representatives. Whether the situation falls under provincial or federal jurisdiction, the provincial government has a role to play in environmental protection and public health. A New Liberal Government will work with the federal government to address environmental issues in Newfoundland and Labrador.

 

NDP Response: Thank you for reaching out to us concerning our environment policies. You raise a number of important issues that deserve careful consideration. We would be happy to sit down with you after November 30 to discuss the points in your letter. In the meantime, I am attaching a copy of our platform; please take the time to review the sustainability portion of our platform, which is outlined on pages 14 and 15. In it, we pledge to support the creation of marine protected areas, implementation of the Protected Areas Strategy for the province’s 35 eco-regions and to review the province’s forest ecosystem management regulations to ensure that biodiversity is maintained. We also commit to keeping parks public and doubling provincial funding for the East Coast Trail, in order to ensure protection of our most beautiful areas and provide accessible and affordable recreation to all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.  Read the NDP Platform here.

 

PC Party Response: No response.

 

 

3. Wetlands are crucial to flood control, clean water and healthy habitats, and are also a major source of stored soil carbon. If your party forms the next government will it produce and implement a wetlands policy that protects these sensitive areas from development and degradation? 

 

Liberal Party Response: A New Liberal Government will develop a provincial wetlands strategy to facilitate the preservation of these important areas. The strategy will guide development to avoid, or reduce, effects on wetlands. A series of recommended mitigation measures will be included to compensate for development impacts to the province’s wetlands. The provincial wetlands strategy will provide a formal framework to support the wetland conservation work currently being carried out by municipalities in Newfoundland and Labrador.

 

NDP Response: Thank you for reaching out to us concerning our environment policies. You raise a number of important issues that deserve careful consideration. We would be happy to sit down with you after November 30 to discuss the points in your letter. In the meantime, I am attaching a copy of our platform; please take the time to review the sustainability portion of our platform, which is outlined on pages 14 and 15. In it, we pledge to support the creation of marine protected areas, implementation of the Protected Areas Strategy for the province’s 35 eco-regions and to review the province’s forest ecosystem management regulations to ensure that biodiversity is maintained. We also commit to keeping parks public and doubling provincial funding for the East Coast Trail, in order to ensure protection of our most beautiful areas and provide accessible and affordable recreation to all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.  Read the NDP Platform here.

 

PC Party Response: No response.

 

 

4. Sustainable forest management continues to be a key part of provincial conservation efforts. What measures will your government take to ensure that the Provincial Sustainable Forest Management Strategy 2014-2024 is fully implemented at the district level, and that adequate habitat is maintained for caribou and Newfoundland marten populations?+

 

Liberal Party Response: A New Liberal Government will implement the Sustainable Forest Management Strategy (2014-2024), with particular emphasis on environmental protection, sustainability, and community involvement. This will include implementation at the district level and maintaining critical forest habitat.

 

NDP Response: Thank you for reaching out to us concerning our environment policies. You raise a number of important issues that deserve careful consideration. We would be happy to sit down with you after November 30 to discuss the points in your letter. In the meantime, I am attaching a copy of our platform; please take the time to review the sustainability portion of our platform, which is outlined on pages 14 and 15. In it, we pledge to support the creation of marine protected areas, implementation of the Protected Areas Strategy for the province’s 35 eco-regions and to review the province’s forest ecosystem management regulations to ensure that biodiversity is maintained. We also commit to keeping parks public and doubling provincial funding for the East Coast Trail, in order to ensure protection of our most beautiful areas and provide accessible and affordable recreation to all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.  Read the NDP Platform here.

 

PC Party Response: No response.

 

 

5. Earth is experiencing a massive decline in wildlife species and populations. Protection of species at risk and sensitive wildlife habitat has been legislated in the province, but we continue to see a decline in key species, in part because of insufficient resources and slowness in developing and implementing recovery strategies for species identified as being at risk. How will your government address species at risk protection in this province?

 

Liberal Party Response: Our approach to species at risk protection will focus on critical habitat protection through our provincial wetlands strategy and natural areas system plan (NASP, discussed below). We will also ensure that species at risk concerns, such as habitat fragmentation, and given proper consideration in development decisions. We are committed to sustained support for government species at risk, and we will develop and implement recovery strategies in consultation with the environmental community.

 

NDP Response: Thank you for reaching out to us concerning our environment policies. You raise a number of important issues that deserve careful consideration. We would be happy to sit down with you after November 30 to discuss the points in your letter. In the meantime, I am attaching a copy of our platform; please take the time to review the sustainability portion of our platform, which is outlined on pages 14 and 15. In it, we pledge to support the creation of marine protected areas, implementation of the Protected Areas Strategy for the province’s 35 eco-regions and to review the province’s forest ecosystem management regulations to ensure that biodiversity is maintained. We also commit to keeping parks public and doubling provincial funding for the East Coast Trail, in order to ensure protection of our most beautiful areas and provide accessible and affordable recreation to all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.  Read the NDP Platform here.

 

PC Party Response: No response.

 

 

6. Under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, Canada and the provinces have undertaken, by 2020, to conserve at least 17 percent of terrestrial areas and inland waters, and 10 percent of coastal and marine areas. This is to be done through networks of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures. What will your government do to ensure that the parks and protected natural areas of Newfoundland and Labrador meet or exceed the CBD protected areas targets?

 

Liberal Party Response: Newfoundland and Labrador has a spectacular range of biodiversity that needs to be protected. The approach to environmental conservation to date has been patchwork, failing to grasp the ecological significance of protected areas. As a result, just 4.6% of land in Newfoundland and Labrador is protected – half the overall Canadian percentage, and just one third of the international percentage. To advance protecting areas planning in the province, a New Liberal Government will implement the long-overdue Natural Areas System Plan. The need for a clearly defined system, including a list of new and planned protected areas, is clear. The PC Government has let their stated goal of establishing and releasing a Natural Areas System Plan fall by the wayside. A New Liberal Government will finalize this plan and publicly release it.

 

NDP Response: Thank you for reaching out to us concerning our environment policies. You raise a number of important issues that deserve careful consideration. We would be happy to sit down with you after November 30 to discuss the points in your letter. In the meantime, I am attaching a copy of our platform; please take the time to review the sustainability portion of our platform, which is outlined on pages 14 and 15. In it, we pledge to support the creation of marine protected areas, implementation of the Protected Areas Strategy for the province’s 35 eco-regions and to review the province’s forest ecosystem management regulations to ensure that biodiversity is maintained. We also commit to keeping parks public and doubling provincial funding for the East Coast Trail, in order to ensure protection of our most beautiful areas and provide accessible and affordable recreation to all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.  Read the NDP Platform here.

 

PC Party Response: No response.

 

7. Conservation groups in this province have advocated for a National Marine Conservation Area on the South Coast, with the aim of protecting critical habitat for a variety of species. Parks Canada has agreed to cooperate in a feasibility study. If elected, will your government take the lead in working with the Government of Canada toward establishing a National Marine Conservation Area on our South Coast?

 

Liberal Party Response: The Liberal Party understands the potential benefits of establishing a National Marine Conservation Area (NMCA), both in terms of environmental sustainability and ensuring sustainable use of the marine environment for economic activities such as fishing and eco-tourism. Liberal MHA Andrew Parsons has led our Party in calling on the PC Government to allow the federal government to complete this feasibility study for several years. A New Liberal Government will commit to doing so.

We are committed to working with the communities in the region and the federal government to study the feasibility of creating a NMCA in the area. The feasibility study will provide communities with long-overdue information about the potential benefits, and will give all parties the information needed to make an evidence-based decision about what is best for the region.

 

NDP Response: Thank you for reaching out to us concerning our environment policies. You raise a number of important issues that deserve careful consideration. We would be happy to sit down with you after November 30 to discuss the points in your letter. In the meantime, I am attaching a copy of our platform; please take the time to review the sustainability portion of our platform, which is outlined on pages 14 and 15. In it, we pledge to support the creation of marine protected areas, implementation of the Protected Areas Strategy for the province’s 35 eco-regions and to review the province’s forest ecosystem management regulations to ensure that biodiversity is maintained. We also commit to keeping parks public and doubling provincial funding for the East Coast Trail, in order to ensure protection of our most beautiful areas and provide accessible and affordable recreation to all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. Read the NDP Platform here.

 

PC Party Response: No response.

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