Can you imagine a greater example of incompetence than the federal government’s stewardship of the east coast fishery, where the cod stocks have been recklessly depleted and entire communities are now on welfare, losing both their economic independence and their dignity? When the welfare runs out in several years, many of the communities will become ghost towns, emptied like the fisheries nearby.
Canada’s image, both domestic and foreign, is that of a country of endless lakes and rivers. A perception of unlimited abundance is reflected in Canadians’ water consumption, which amounts to approximately 350 litres a day per capita, or more than twice that of many western Europeans. To a large extent, however, the superabundance of water is exaggerated. Much of the water in Canada is geographically inaccessible, available at inappropriate times, or polluted.
As you know all too well, Canadians will soon need to decide the future of our country through the makeup of our new constitution. None of the government’s proposed constitutional changes were designed with the environment in mind but some changes will certainly affect the environment. I am writing you to explain why one proposal in particular—the economic union—would benefit the environment, and so deserves your support.
The controversy surrounding the K.V.P. pulp and paper mill in the 1940s dramatically illustrates both property owners’ common law rights to clean water and governments’ tendency to override these rights. Three court cases and two laws involving K.V.P. concerned the right of landowners to sue the company for polluting the river adjacent to their land. A brief explanation of “riparian rights” will clarify these cases and the subsequent events.
Between 0.6% and 9.3% of provincial lands exist as more protected wilderness areas, wilderness zones or protected national parks. These protected areas comprise between 48% and 95% of total park lands in the provinces. Commercial timber harvesting occurs in Manitoba’s provincial parks, two Ontario provincial parks, and one national park (Wood Buffalo National Park). Mineral extraction occurs in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Nova Scotia parks. Oil and natural gas wells are found in four Alberta parks, in two Saskatchewan parks and in one Manitoba park.
A Toronto-based environmental group, arguing that there’s no longer any economic benefit to logging in Vancouver island’s Carmanah Valley, is asking the British Columbia government to preserve the entire valley.
Question: In the one year since the free trade agreement took effect, has the deal done anything to harm – or help – the Canadian environment?
Wherever trees grow on private land, forest owners seem to draw the ire of their governments. The government of Ontario has a problem with the way many of its small, private woodlot owners tend their forests: They won’t cut down their trees. The government’s surveys conclude that these smallholders – mostly farmers, professionals and retirees, who control more that 10 million acres of timberland – have what government experts call "a rather indifferent attitude" toward their land.
Robert Rivard of the Canadian Lumbermen’s Association would like to go back to “the old free trade deal.” He feels the previous arrangement reflected a more Canadian brand of free trade that better served his association’s members.
The environment has been one of the hottest election issues going but the Canadian Wildlife Federation – Canada’s largest conservation group – and Pollution Probe – Canada’s largest environmental advocacy organization – haven’t received much press during the campaign. The cameras, instead, have been focused on those prepared to make unequivocal predictions: tub-thumping free traders like federal negotiator Simon Reisman, who have insisted the deal won’t affect the environment in the least, and fervent anti-free traders like the Canadian Environmental Law Association, who have claimed the free trade deal will lead to our environment’s certain destruction.