Parties respond to environmental policy questionnaire

Source: flickr.com/M.Crosbie

On August 29, 2011 the NLEN sent an environmental policy questionnaire to each of the three parties running in the upcoming provincial election. With an aim to encourage public dialogue on environmental issues, it poses questions related to investment in environmental conservation and education, wetland protection, protected area establishment, mining, forestry, and food security.

Where do each of the parties stand on some of the big environment issues facing Newfoundland and Labrador? Take a look.

Files:
NLEN Environmental Policy Recommendations – August 29, 2011
NLEN Environmental Policy Questionnaire – August 29, 2011
PC Party responses to NLEN questionnaire – September 19, 2011
NDP responses to NLEN questionnaire – September 20, 2011
Liberal Party responses to NLEN questionnaire – September 23, 2011

[tab name=’Questionnaire’]

There are a number of environmental issues in Newfoundland and Labrador, which are affecting the sustainability and well-being of our communities and economy. These issues include rising greenhouse gas emissions, degradation and loss of natural habitat (in both the marine and terrestrial environments), and loss of biological diversity.

Environmental organisations do not have all the solutions to these problems, but are actively engaging with the public, governments, aboriginal groups, and industry sectors to seek common ground and make progress.

This questionnaire was compiled by the Newfoundland and Labrador Environment Network, a provincial network of non-governmental, non-profit environmental groups.  Please note that the questionnaire does not attempt to address all environmental issues and concerns in Newfoundland and Labrador.  A companion document to this questionnaire, which outlines a variety of environmental policy recommendations from NLEN members, can be found here:  Environmental Policy Recommendations – August 29, 2011.

 

Protected Areas

1. In 2011, the provinces of Quebec and Nova Scotia unveiled their plans to protect 12% of their provincial landmass by the year 2015. The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity recommends 17% protection as a target for terrestrial protected areas coverage. What is your party’s protected areas target, and when will you achieve it? How will your party accelerate the establishment of protected areas in NL? (Question from:  Ducks Unlimited Canada, Nature Newfoundland and Labrador and Protected Areas Association of Newfoundland and Labrador)

2. Will your party initiate a province-wide land use planning process? (Question from: Nature Newfoundland and Labrador)

3. Establishment of the Little Grand Lake Ecological Reserve has been stalled at the “provisional” stage for many years. Will your party commit to full establishment of the Little Grand Lake Ecological Reserve within one year of the 2011 election?   (Question from: Protected Areas Association of Newfoundland and Labrador)

4. In 2011, the federal government allocated $5.5M to establish the Mealy Mountains National Park Reserve over the next 5 years. Will your party make an equivalent budget allocation to establish the Eagle River Waterway Provincial Park in Labrador, as a companion investment?  (Question from: Protected Areas Association of Newfoundland and Labrador)


Sustainable Resource Development

5. Will your party take measures to insure that ecosystem-based forestry management becomes a reality throughout the Province and the adequate habitat is maintained for all caribou populations? (Question from: Nature Newfoundland and Labrador)

6. Will your party oppose concessions to the mining industry that allows the destruction of freshwater ecosystems?  (Question from: Nature Newfoundland and Labrador)


Wetland protection

7. Wetlands are crucial to flood control, clean water and healthy habitats, and are also a major source of stored soil carbon. The carbon storage in the soils and peatlands of Newfoundland and Labrador is equal to 118 years of all of Canada’s emissions at 2006 levels. If your party forms the next government will it produce and implement a wetlands policy that protects these sensitive areas from development and degradation? (Question from:  Northeast Avalon Atlantic Coastal Action Program and Ducks Unlimited Canada)

8. The Northeast Avalon is experiencing unprecedented economic growth and development. If your party forms the next government how will it set about protecting the ponds, rivers and wetlands that are crucial to the area’s environmental health?  Will this include establishment of more protected areas within the region? (Question from: Northeast Avalon Atlantic Coastal Action Program)

 
Food Security

9. Food security is a challenge in Newfoundland and Labrador. We currently do not produce enough food to feed our population and we are losing important knowledge and skills related to food. Our province also has some of the highest obesity rates, as well as food bank usage across the country. Considering these challenges, how would your party work to support community-based solutions to food security? (Question from: Western Environment Centre)

 
Investment in environmental protection

10. This year, Newfoundland and Labrador is projected to reap a windfall profit from oil production that could boost provincial revenue by $600 Million. The royalties from oil and gas and mineral development will mean windfall profits for the province for years to come. Will you invest a portion of windfall profits into an environmental trust, to fund conservation, remediation and stewardship in the province? (Note: In 2008, Nova Scotia invested $25 Million in such a fund). (Question from:  Northeast Avalon Atlantic Coastal Action Program)

11. If your party forms the government how will it respond to the cuts in research and environmental protection being implemented by Environment Canada in this province? (Question from:  Northeast Avalon Atlantic Coastal Action Program)

 
Investment in environmental education

12. How do you think the school system can teach students to better appreciate the need for sustaining a healthy environment in Newfoundland and Labrador? (Question from:   Whale Release and Strandings)


CONTRIBUTING ORGANISATIONS:
Ducks Unlimited
Whale Release and Strandings
Northeast Avalon Atlantic Coastal Action Program
Western Environment Centre
Nature Newfoundland and Labrador

COMPILED BY:
Newfoundland and Labrador Environment Network

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[tab name=’PC responses’]

Protected Areas

1. In 2011, the provinces of Quebec and Nova Scotia unveiled their plans to protect 12% of their provincial landmass by the year 2015. The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity recommends 17% protection as a target for terrestrial protected areas coverage. What is your party’s protected areas target, and when will you achieve it? How will your party accelerate the establishment of protected areas in NL? (Question from:  Ducks Unlimited Canada, Nature Newfoundland and Labrador and Protected Areas Association of Newfoundland and Labrador)

RESPONSE: Since the Wilderness and Ecological Reserves Act was introduced by a PC government in 1980, our province has created eighteen wilderness and ecological reserves.  Until 2010, when all protected areas, including provincial and national parks, were measured, 4.6 per cent of the province was under some kind of natural-heritage protection.  We said more could be done to complete a system of protected areas that truly preserves examples of all of our ecosystems, species and natural features.  In 2009, we expanded the Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve, established the Lawn Islands Archipelago Provisional Ecological Reserve and established the Main River Waterway Provincial Park.  In 2010, we partnered to establish a new National Park Reserve in the Mealy Mountains and announced our intent to establish the Eagle River Waterway Provincial Park adjacent to the proposed national park reserve to form the largest contiguous protected area in the province.  This will raise the percentage of land protected in the province from 4.6 per cent to eight per cent – a significant step in the right direction.  Our record demonstrates our strong commitment to protecting our natural heritage, and we will continue to move progressively in this direction.

2. Will your party initiate a province-wide land use planning process? (Question from: Nature Newfoundland and Labrador)

RESPONSE: We will proceed with the development and implementation of a new Natural Areas System Plan.  As the discussion document for the development of a new strategy for coastal and ocean management makes clear: “The Department of Environment and Conservation is responsible for establishing and managing provincial protected areas.  Currently, 57 protected areas are managed by the department, and 34 of these have coastal components.  The department is developing the Natural Areas System Plan, a major initiative designed to expand our protected areas network to include representative portions of all natural regions.  In many cases these will include coastal areas and will, therefore, increase protection of green spaces along the coast.  The department will conduct public consultations on the draft Natural Areas System Plan prior to releasing a final plan and implementation strategy.  The Plan will ensure a carefully designed and managed system of protected areas, including coastal regions, for all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.”

3. Establishment of the Little Grand Lake Ecological Reserve has been stalled at the “provisional” stage for many years. Will your party commit to full establishment of the Little Grand Lake Ecological Reserve within one year of the 2011 election?   (Question from: Protected Areas Association of Newfoundland and Labrador)

RESPONSE: Little Grand Lake currently enjoys certain protections under the Wilderness and Ecological Reserves Act as a Provisional Ecological Reserve.  For example, a person cannot within a provisional reserve construct a structure or reconstruct or add to a structure or build a road, path or track, or engage in the cutting or logging of trees, agriculture, mining, prospecting or claims staking; alter the course of or amount of flow of water; use motorized vehicles or equipment; fish, hunt, trap, net or snare an animal, use motorized vehicles or equipment, remove or destroy or impair a plant, animal, fossil or object of historical or scientific interest; introduce a plant or animal species; and more.  We maintain this special status to protect extensive bogs and barrens, plus mature boreal forest that is prime habitat for the endangered Newfoundland marten.

4. In 2011, the federal government allocated $5.5M to establish the Mealy Mountains National Park Reserve over the next 5 years. Will your party make an equivalent budget allocation to establish the Eagle River Waterway Provincial Park in Labrador, as a companion investment?  (Question from: Protected Areas Association of Newfoundland and Labrador)

RESPONSE: On February 5, 2010, we announced our intent to establish a waterway provincial park to protect the Eagle River, adjacent to the proposed national park reserve.  The proposed waterway provincial park encompasses almost the entire length of the spectacular Eagle River (approximately 140 kilometres long) and a significant portion of its headwaters.  The total area of the waterway park will be approximately 3,000 square kilometres.  The waterway provincial park will protect a natural and cultural landscape that is important to all Labradorians.  At over 13,000 square kilometres, the Mealy Mountains National Park Reserve and the Eagle River Waterway Provincial Park will form the largest contiguous protected area in the province.  When established, these two areas will raise the percentage of land protected in the province from 4.6 per cent to eight per cent.

 

Sustainable Resource Development

5. Will your party take measures to insure that ecosystem-based forestry management becomes a reality throughout the Province and the adequate habitat is maintained for all caribou populations? (Question from: Nature Newfoundland and Labrador)

RESPONSE: We have invested considerable sums of public money in investigating the status of caribou herds on the Island and in Labrador.  Populations in both regions are in decline.  The hunting quota decisions we make will continue to be guided by the facts and the application of sustainable development principles.  If scientists tell us the populations cannot supporting any hunting at this time, then hunting will be closed.  Our forests have immeasurable value to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.  They are vital ecosystems that sustain life in incredibly complex ways, whether by giving wildlife, fish and plants a place to thrive, or by helping to filter our atmosphere and drinking water, or by producing and safeguarding our soil.  They are spectacular attractions for tourists, hunters and recreation enthusiasts, providing a means for people employed in these sectors to earn a living.  They are classrooms where students and researchers engage in the sciences and pursue valuable research and development work that may lead to important scientific and technological advances.  They provide resources we can harvest to sustain economic activity and employment in many communities.  The key principle guiding all our actions in the forestry sector is sustainability.  To apply this principle effectively, we must continually advance our understanding of the dynamics at work in our forest ecosystems.  We will continue to require timber resource analyses and forestry development plans to assess and manage our forestry resources responsibly, strategically and sustainably in the best interests of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.  We will complete the establishment of the Centre for Forest Science and Innovation to draw together the expertise and research activities of the provincial and federal governments, Memorial University, College of the North Atlantic and other entities.  We will continue to partner in the Model Forest of Newfoundland and Labrador.  We will continue to invest in developing our province’s expertise in forest management and research.

6. Will your party oppose concessions to the mining industry that allows the destruction of freshwater ecosystems?  (Question from: Nature Newfoundland and Labrador)

RESPONSE: As a government, we apply the Environmental Assessment Act to mining developments.  The proponents must demonstrate that reasonable measures will be taken to protect our environment from undue harm.  By its very nature, mining alters the natural environment.  There are actions that can be taken to reduce and mitigate the impacts.  A thorough environmental assessment of a proposed mineral processing operation on the southern Avalon determined that using a freshwater pond to reduce the impact of byproducts on the environment was a responsible course of action.  Newfoundlanders and Labradorians value our natural heritage, and we also value natural resource development projects that employ our people.  We believe it is possible to achieve a healthy balance, and we are working diligently to ensure we achieve that balance.

 

Wetland protection

7. Wetlands are crucial to flood control, clean water and healthy habitats, and are also a major source of stored soil carbon. The carbon storage in the soils and peatlands of Newfoundland and Labrador is equal to 118 years of all of Canada’s emissions at 2006 levels. If your party forms the next government will it produce and implement a wetlands policy that protects these sensitive areas from development and degradation? (Question from:  Northeast Avalon Atlantic Coastal Action Program and Ducks Unlimited Canada)

RESPONSE: As our 2005 Climate Change Action Plan states, wetlands and coastal zones are particularly vulnerable to increased climatic variability and given that most Newfoundland and Labrador communities are located along the coastline this can have potentially devastating socio-economic implications.  The Water Resources Management Division (WRMD) of the Department of Environment and Conservation is proactively participating in research and development on climate change impacts, vulnerabilities and adaptation strategies by carefully monitoring the results from its hydrometric, water quality and climate networks.  These three environmental quality-monitoring networks provide valuable insights into the impacts of climate change on water resources.  Recent analysis of data from the water quality network indicates changing trends in the water quality of water bodies located in pristine environments.  These trends in major ions, turbidity, and colour have no other reasonable causal factor other than climate change.  Through the WRMD, we will continue to be vigilant, keeping a close watch on trends in stream flows, lake levels, rainfall, snowfall, water quality and flood frequency to identify any climate change impacts, identify vulnerabilities and to design adaptation strategies.

8. The Northeast Avalon is experiencing unprecedented economic growth and development. If your party forms the next government how will it set about protecting the ponds, rivers and wetlands that are crucial to the area’s environmental health?  Will this include establishment of more protected areas within the region? (Question from: Northeast Avalon Atlantic Coastal Action Program)

RESPONSE: Again, the Water Resources Management Division (WRMD) of the Department of Environment and Conservation is proactively participating in research and development on climate change impacts, vulnerabilities and adaptation strategies by carefully monitoring the results from its hydrometric, water quality and climate networks.  We will continue to be vigilant to ensure ponds, rivers and wetlands that are crucial to the area’s environmental health are monitored and protected.

 

Food Security

9. Food security is a challenge in Newfoundland and Labrador. We currently do not produce enough food to feed our population and we are losing important knowledge and skills related to food. Our province also has some of the highest obesity rates, as well as food bank usage across the country. Considering these challenges, how would your party work to support community-based solutions to food security? (Question from: Western Environment Centre)

RESPONSE: I invite you to read the Agriculture section of our policy blue book when the document is released.  We are strongly committed to growing our agricultural industry and improving our food security.  In the years ahead, our government will continue to provide targeted incentives and assistance to enable farming initiatives to grow and prosper.  We will implement our new five-year Agriculture and Agrifoods Action Plan entitled “Our Farms, Our Food, Our Future”.  We will work to increase the production of food to enhance food security and reduce the carbon footprint associated with food transport.  We support the “slow food” movement, which aims to promote increased supply of local food demand with locally-grown food products.  We will work with farmers to ensure Newfoundland and Labrador is able to supply increasingly more of the foods we consume, thereby increasing food security.  We will work to encourage Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to purchase and consume more locally-produced food products.  We will promote the purchase and use of Newfoundland and Labrador-produced foods by Newfoundland and Labrador schools, hospitals and other public institutions.  We will promote the growth of a local food security network, develop domestic produce markets and assist growers.  Please refer to our other commitments on this important issue.

 

Investment in environmental protection

10. This year, Newfoundland and Labrador is projected to reap a windfall profit from oil production that could boost provincial revenue by $600 Million. The royalties from oil and gas and mineral development will mean windfall profits for the province for years to come. Will you invest a portion of windfall profits into an environmental trust, to fund conservation, remediation and stewardship in the province? (Note: In 2008, Nova Scotia invested $25 Million in such a fund). (Question from:  Northeast Avalon Atlantic Coastal Action Program)

RESPONSE: I do not see oil revenue as a windfall.  Newfoundland and Labrador has significant reservoirs of oil and other nonrenewable resources with great wealth-generating potential.  Such resource can be extracted and converted from potential wealth into actual revenue only once.  We believe the generation that extracts such a resource ought to use the return on that wealth wisely in ways that will benefit, not only the present generation, but indeed Newfoundlanders and Labradorians for generations to come.  With that principle to guide us, we have made very deliberate decisions on spending that revenue.  We have reduced Newfoundland and Labrador’s net debt by nearly a third since 2003, from a high of almost $12 billion to about $8.2 billion – a reduction of nearly $4 billion – and that has reduced our annual interest payments and removed a substantial burden from our children’s backs.  We have invested billions to address our province’s infrastructure deficit, building such things as highways and hospitals to benefit our economy, attract new investment and generate new, sustainable growth.  We are also investing to develop the hydropower resources of the Lower Churchill, in effect converting our nonrenewable wealth into renewable wealth that can sustain our province generation after generation.  Some of those revenues we are indeed investing in conservation, remediation and stewardship.

11. If your party forms the government how will it respond to the cuts in research and environmental protection being implemented by Environment Canada in this province? (Question from:  Northeast Avalon Atlantic Coastal Action Program)

RESPONSE: In government, we have demonstrated we are capable of working with the federal government on initiatives that benefit Newfoundland and Labrador, and we are also prepared to stand up and fight for Newfoundland and Labrador’s best interests when the circumstances warrant such action.  More than that, we have also stepped in to do more ourselves.  In 2010, we announced the provision of $11.75 million to establish the Centre for Fisheries Ecosystem Research at Memorial University’s Fisheries and Marine Institute.  This funding included $6.5 million for human resources and operating costs of the centre over the next five years plus $5.25 million to charter large vessels, such as the RV Celtic Explorer, for offshore research.  We also announced $2 million to fund the Canadian Centre for Fisheries Innovation (CCFI) plus $200,000 for a highly-sophisticated inshore fisheries research vessel, the RV Gecho II, to study coastal bays with unique habitats, inshore spawning and nursery habitats, enabling the province to better monitor inshore and offshore species migration.  Our total investment was $14 million.  This vital work will continue as we continue to invest provincial funding in our new fisheries scientific research initiative.  In 2008-09, we launched our province’s new Research & Development Corporation (RDC) to work with, and encourage collaboration among, R&D stakeholders including industry, academia and government agencies and departments.  Through the RDC and the Innovation Strategy, we will continue to incubate vital new opportunities that will propel Newfoundland and Labrador toward new growth as we head deeper into the 21st century.  We will also strive to increase the share of private sector R&D significantly as a proportion of total R&D.  The government will partner with large industrial players active in the province to find mutually beneficial ways for them to increase significantly their research and development investments here.  We will increase the budgetary provisions for operations and capital works for our public post-secondary institutions to ensure they remain competitive nationally and accessible for our people.  We will invest to ensure students who pursue a post-secondary education in Newfoundland and Labrador will continue to have access to leading-edge laboratories and research facilities.  Read more in our new Blue Book and related documents.

 

Investment in environmental education

12. How do you think the school system can teach students to better appreciate the need for sustaining a healthy environment in Newfoundland and Labrador? (Question from:   Whale Release and Strandings)

RESPONSE: In our new Blue Book and also in strategic plans our government has recently announced, we have placed significant emphasis on science and innovation, beginning in K-12.  In our 2011 Coastal and Ocean Management Strategy And Policy Framework, for example, we commit to “promote local initiatives and educational programs aimed at enhancing marine education and increasing youth involvement in coastal and ocean stewardship activities across the province.”  We will do more.  We will consult with young people on the development of a new approach to engaging young Newfoundlanders and Labradorians in green activism – an approach that will be the model for other jurisdictions around the world to emulate.  We will make a special effort to engage Aboriginal youth and Aboriginal elders in developing this initiative in recognition of the strong connection to the environment that endures in Aboriginal cultures.  Recognizing the opportunities available to graduates with a firm grounding in the sciences, we will work with school boards and teachers to encourage students – both male and female – to choose science courses.  We will provide funding to invest further to update science laboratories and equipment.  We will augment our high school curriculum in ways that will showcase the work of scientists and innovators working in Newfoundland and Labrador, highlight science-based career opportunities in our province, and identify development opportunities in our province that will be driven by leaders in science and innovation.  We will encourage all schools – through posters, brochures, news clippings, professional literature and academic journals – to showcase notable advances in science, technology and industry, both locally and abroad that will motivate and inform students with interests in these fields.  We will establish a scholarship that recognizes student innovators.  We will sponsor, and encourage the private sector to sponsor, science and technology fairs that promote applied learning and showcase creativity.  We will motivate students by sponsoring visits to our schools and classrooms (both in person and by video links) of pioneers, leaders and motivators in a range of disciplines, including the sciences.

 

Thank you for giving me this opportunity to address the concerns of your members.

Yours sincerely,

Ross Reid

2011 Policy Chair, Progressive Conservative Party of Newfoundland and Labrador

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[tab name=’NDP responses ‘]

Protected Areas

1. In 2011, the provinces of Quebec and Nova Scotia unveiled their plans to protect 12% of their provincial landmass by the year 2015. The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity recommends 17% protection as a target for terrestrial protected areas coverage. What is your party’s protected areas target, and when will you achieve it? How will your party accelerate the establishment of protected areas in NL? (Question from:  Ducks Unlimited Canada, Nature Newfoundland and Labrador and Protected Areas Association of Newfoundland and Labrador)

RESPONSE: The Natural Areas System Plan continues to be delayed. Our goal is to protect at least 12% of our landmass to meet national standards. We are committed to implementation of a Protected Areas Strategy to preserve areas representing each of the province’s 35 eco-regions. We will also enact legislation to protect shorelands from development.

2. Will your party initiate a province-wide land use planning process? (Question from: Nature Newfoundland and Labrador)

RESPONSE: We have called for a provincial land use plan for many years. We will begin a consultative process towards that end.

3. Establishment of the Little Grand Lake Ecological Reserve has been stalled at the “provisional” stage for many years. Will your party commit to full establishment of the Little Grand Lake Ecological Reserve within one year of the 2011 election?   (Question from: Protected Areas Association of Newfoundland and Labrador)

RESPONSE: We will work towards the finalization of all of the designated provisional ecological reserves, including Little Grand Lake.

4. In 2011, the federal government allocated $5.5M to establish the Mealy Mountains National Park Reserve over the next 5 years. Will your party make an equivalent budget allocation to establish the Eagle River Waterway Provincial Park in Labrador, as a companion investment?  (Question from: Protected Areas Association of Newfoundland and Labrador)

RESPONSE: The government committed to establishing the Eagle River Waterway as a provincial park, and that commitment should be honoured, because not to do so would undermine the integrity of the Mealy Mountains National Park.

 

Sustainable Resource Development

5. Will your party take measures to insure that ecosystem-based forestry management becomes a reality throughout the Province and the adequate habitat is maintained for all caribou populations? (Question from: Nature Newfoundland and Labrador)

RESPONSE: We will adopt forest ecosystem management regulations for harvesting and silviculture to maintain biodiversity.

6. Will your party oppose concessions to the mining industry that allows the destruction of freshwater ecosystems?  (Question from: Nature Newfoundland and Labrador)

RESPONSE: We will ban the dumping of mine and industrial waste in natural water bodies and environmentally sensitive areas.

 

Wetland protection

7. Wetlands are crucial to flood control, clean water and healthy habitats, and are also a major source of stored soil carbon. The carbon storage in the soils and peatlands of Newfoundland and Labrador is equal to 118 years of all of Canada’s emissions at 2006 levels. If your party forms the next government will it produce and implement a wetlands policy that protects these sensitive areas from development and degradation? (Question from:  Northeast Avalon Atlantic Coastal Action Program and Ducks Unlimited Canada)

RESPONSE: The provincial land use plan will include protection of wetlands and other environmentally sensitive areas.

8. The Northeast Avalon is experiencing unprecedented economic growth and development. If your party forms the next government how will it set about protecting the ponds, rivers and wetlands that are crucial to the area’s environmental health?  Will this include establishment of more protected areas within the region? (Question from: Northeast Avalon Atlantic Coastal Action Program)

RESPONSE: We will ensure that the provincial land use plan, the Northeast Avalon Regional Plan, and the Protected Areas Plan will protect the region’s water bodies, wetlands and ecologically sensitive areas.

 

Food Security

9. Food security is a challenge in Newfoundland and Labrador. We currently do not produce enough food to feed our population and we are losing important knowledge and skills related to food. Our province also has some of the highest obesity rates, as well as food bank usage across the country. Considering these challenges, how would your party work to support community-based solutions to food security? (Question from: Western Environment Centre)

RESPONSE: Our platform includes measures to protect farmland, encourage the expansion agrifoods for local markets, help communities develop local agriculture, protect our fishery with more marine ecosystem research, and establish a seafood marketing council focussed on local markets as well as exports.

 

Investment in environmental protection

10. This year, Newfoundland and Labrador is projected to reap a windfall profit from oil production that could boost provincial revenue by $600 Million. The royalties from oil and gas and mineral development will mean windfall profits for the province for years to come. Will you invest a portion of windfall profits into an environmental trust, to fund conservation, remediation and stewardship in the province? (Note: In 2008, Nova Scotia invested $25 Million in such a fund). (Question from:  Northeast Avalon Atlantic Coastal Action Program)

RESPONSE: Our platform includes a petroleum royalty surcharge to address the windfall nature of oil industry profits. We will direct more funds to the Waste Management Strategy, expand energy efficiency programs and create a new program for non-residential buildings, upgrade the grid to accept locally-produced electricity, and help communities develop green energy.

11. If your party forms the government how will it respond to the cuts in research and environmental protection being implemented by Environment Canada in this province? (Question from:  Northeast Avalon Atlantic Coastal Action Program)

RESPONSE: The cuts to Environment Canada threaten environmental monitoring functions across the country. We will approach the other Atlantic provinces to mount a concerted opposition and examine what else can be done collectively to safeguard these functions.

 

Investment in environmental education

12. How do you think the school system can teach students to better appreciate the need for sustaining a healthy environment in Newfoundland and Labrador? (Question from:   Whale Release and Strandings)

RESPONSE: Our platform includes placing more teaching resources in schools. We believe in the importance of education to ensure future sustainability and we are open to ideas for enhancing environmental education.

 

Sincerely,
Lorraine Michael
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[tab name=’Liberal responses’]

Protected Areas

1. In 2011, the provinces of Quebec and Nova Scotia unveiled their plans to protect 12% of their provincial landmass by the year 2015. The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity recommends 17% protection as a target for terrestrial protected areas coverage. What is your party’s protected areas target, and when will you achieve it? How will your party accelerate the establishment of protected areas in NL? (Question from:  Ducks Unlimited Canada, Nature Newfoundland and Labrador and Protected Areas Association of Newfoundland and Labrador)

2. Will your party initiate a province-wide land use planning process? (Question from: Nature Newfoundland and Labrador)

3. Establishment of the Little Grand Lake Ecological Reserve has been stalled at the “provisional” stage for many years. Will your party commit to full establishment of the Little Grand Lake Ecological Reserve within one year of the 2011 election?   (Question from: Protected Areas Association of Newfoundland and Labrador)

4. In 2011, the federal government allocated $5.5M to establish the Mealy Mountains National Park Reserve over the next 5 years. Will your party make an equivalent budget allocation to establish the Eagle River Waterway Provincial Park in Labrador, as a companion investment?  (Question from: Protected Areas Association of Newfoundland and Labrador)

RESPONSE to questions 1 -4: There are a number of ecological and environmentally sensitive areas throughout Newfoundland and Labrador that deserve to be adequately protected. Those areas may exist in the wilderness of our province or they may lie within municipal boundaries. Either way, they need to be properly identified and preserved. We will work the appropriate stakeholders to accomplish our goals.

A New Liberal Government will:

  •  initiate a province-wide Land Use Planning process that identifies areas of the province requiring protected status in our first mandate;
  • work with the Eastern Habitat Joint Venture and Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador to encourage and promote the Wetlands Program;
  • in partnership with the Mealey Mountain National Park Reserve, establish the Eagle River Waterway Provincial Park in Labrador;
  • finalize the establishment of the Little Grand Lake and Lawn Islands Ecological Reserves;

 

Sustainable Resource Development

5. Will your party take measures to insure that ecosystem-based forestry management becomes a reality throughout the Province and the adequate habitat is maintained for all caribou populations? (Question from: Nature Newfoundland and Labrador)

RESPONSE: Our forestry industry is not being optimized for its value. A New Liberal Government believes this resource must be allocated on the principle of best-end use and optimal benefit to the province through economic development, employment, recreational, wildlife and the environment.  We are the owners of the Crown forest and all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians must be meaningfully engaged in decisions that affect our common resource.

A New Liberal Government will bring renewed efforts to reviving this very important industry for rural communities and to the provincial economy.   We believe that by investing in rural communities, a stronger forest industry and stronger communities will emerge.  Our vision to sustain our forest sector into the future is just the beginning.

In carrying out our goal on increased value for the forestry industry, we are very cognizant of the issue of sustainable forest development. In light of that, a New Liberal Government will:

  • update and implement the Provincial Sustainable Forest Management Strategy (2003) with particular emphasis on old growth forests and species at risks; and
  • expand the Newfoundland Model Forest Program to all areas of the province including the Northern Peninsula to broaden the approach to future forest development activities.

 

6. Will your party oppose concessions to the mining industry that allows the destruction of freshwater ecosystems?  (Question from: Nature Newfoundland and Labrador)

RESPONSE: No response provided.

 

Wetland protection

7. Wetlands are crucial to flood control, clean water and healthy habitats, and are also a major source of stored soil carbon. The carbon storage in the soils and peatlands of Newfoundland and Labrador is equal to 118 years of all of Canada’s emissions at 2006 levels. If your party forms the next government will it produce and implement a wetlands policy that protects these sensitive areas from development and degradation? (Question from:  Northeast Avalon Atlantic Coastal Action Program and Ducks Unlimited Canada)

RESPONSE: The value of wetlands is significant and  efforts must be made to protect these ecosystems. However, they are still disappearing under the pressure of human activity, and are being threatened by air pollution and climate change.

In light of that, a New Liberal Government will:

  • produce and implement a wetlands policy that protects sensitive areas from development and degradation;
  • develop a wetlands protection strategy to ensure that ponds, rivers and wetlands that are crucial to the area’s environmental health are preserved.

 

8. The Northeast Avalon is experiencing unprecedented economic growth and development. If your party forms the next government how will it set about protecting the ponds, rivers and wetlands that are crucial to the area’s environmental health?  Will this include establishment of more protected areas within the region? (Question from: Northeast Avalon Atlantic Coastal Action Program)

RESPONSE: No response provided.

 

Food Security

9. Food security is a challenge in Newfoundland and Labrador. We currently do not produce enough food to feed our population and we are losing important knowledge and skills related to food. Our province also has some of the highest obesity rates, as well as food bank usage across the country. Considering these challenges, how would your party work to support community-based solutions to food security? (Question from: Western Environment Centre)

RESPONSE: Agriculture is important and we need to ensure that the industry is strong. We have the capability to benefit from its economic potential. In addition, food security exists when all citizens have access to nutritious, culturally appropriate food produced in a sustainable manner. As a province, we do not produce enough of our own food. In fact, we import over ninety (90) per cent of the food that we eat. We have enough food in our province to last us five short days.

A New Liberal Government will enhance food security through investments in local producers and implement a food security strategy. We will host a provincial food security summit during the first year of our mandate. Subsequently we will establish, in cooperation with stakeholders including community groups and networks, a Food Security Strategy that sets benchmarks that we must achieve within identified time frames.

 

Investment in environmental protection

10. This year, Newfoundland and Labrador is projected to reap a windfall profit from oil production that could boost provincial revenue by $600 Million. The royalties from oil and gas and mineral development will mean windfall profits for the province for years to come. Will you invest a portion of windfall profits into an environmental trust, to fund conservation, remediation and stewardship in the province? (Note: In 2008, Nova Scotia invested $25 Million in such a fund). (Question from:  Northeast Avalon Atlantic Coastal Action Program)

RESPONSE: Over the past ten years, Newfoundland and Labrador has gone from have-not to have status, all due to revenues from non-renewable natural resources, especially petroleum. The current resources and associated revenue belong to all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and need to be shared appropriately with both current and future generations.

As a province we need to leverage our energy resources for future as well as present generations. A New Liberal Government will deal with this by creating a Legacy Fund built through contributions of a percentage of our oil revenues to ensure a better fiscal future.

A New Liberal Government will create and annually invest in a Legacy Fund. We will invest 10% of oil revenues, which equates to about $250- Million/year, and this investment will grow over time once the fiscal situation of our province has been determined. Responsible management of the fund shall safeguard and build financial wealth for future generations. While the details of this fund have yet to be determined, the environment and conservation of it will be included in the consultations we do in determining the best way to allocate this funding.

 

11. If your party forms the government how will it respond to the cuts in research and environmental protection being implemented by Environment Canada in this province? (Question from:  Northeast Avalon Atlantic Coastal Action Program)

RESPONSE: With respect to the cuts in funding for research and environmental protection, a New Liberal Government will aggressively advocate to the federal government regarding these reductions in funding and the significant impact it will have on our province. In addition, it may be necessary to review the current provincial environmental strategy and make adjustments to mitigate effects from this loss of investment into our province.

 

Investment in environmental education

12. How do you think the school system can teach students to better appreciate the need for sustaining a healthy environment in Newfoundland and Labrador? (Question from:   Whale Release and Strandings)

RESPONSE:  Today’s students are tomorrow’s environmental stewards. Allowing students the opportunity to learn about the environment will make them more aware of the environment, the importance of it and afford them the opportunity to make better choices. We are a province surrounded by water and therefore have a right, responsibility and an incredible opportunity to teach them the value of both the land and the sea as well as the organisms associated with each.

———-

 

In addition to the questions that you have raised, a New Liberal Government will also be following through on several other environmental initiatives as outlined below.

 

Climate Change

Many of our municipalities in Newfoundland and Labrador have seen dramatic changes in the landscape of their communities, either through erosion, mudslides, flooding, or tidal surge. While some of this phenomenon may be attributed to climate change, community and provincial leaders realize that steps must be taken to mitigate the possibility and frequency of those events.

A New Liberal Government will:

  • use the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification program as its guiding principles for construction of government financed infrastructure;
  • expedite the implementation of the Provincial Waste Management Strategy, and will ensure the strategy is designed to minimize the carbon footprint;
  • offer to establish, in partnership with interested municipalities,  Regional Transit Authorities (RTA’s) in and around the province’s major population centers, including the Northeast Avalon, Grand Falls Windsor/Gander corridor, and the Corner Brook region. These RTAs will examine current transit patterns of use, assess future potential ridership demands, and adjust regional transit systems across the region; and
  • support the Multi Material Stewardship Board (MMSB) in promoting all recycling programs, with special emphasis on education throughout the school system.

 

Oil Spill Response

Offshore oil production off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador has been the main contributor to the province’s wealth since it began production just a few years ago, and it will continue to be for many more years to come. We must ensure that all necessary steps are being taken to mitigate the impact this industry could potentially have on the environment, especially to marine life and shorelines around our province through oil spills. We must learn from the disastrous aftermaths of the Prestige, the Exxon Valdez, and the Gulf of Mexico.

A New Liberal Government will establish, in partnership with the federal government, a comprehensive oil spill response regime for Placentia Bay.

 

Wildlife

Big game hunting has been, and continues to be, a way of life for residents and non-residents in Newfoundland and Labrador. There has to be a balance between harvesting and conservation so that the herds are not put at risk. Government has an important role to play to ensure that adequate controls are in place that achieves that delicate balance.

Caribou herds in both Labrador and on the Island portion of the province are at dangerously low levels, and require drastic measures from Government to protect the herd’s sustainability.

The moose population continue to escalate, which has precipitated in safety concerns for motorists are our highways. While we do have an aggressive harvesting program for moose in place, there are many animals straying onto our roads that do present problems for motorists, especially at night.

A New Liberal Government will:

  • work with organizations like Save Our People Action Committee (SOPAC) to identify “hot spots” on all our highways where moose frequently stray, posing a safety concern for motorists;
  • initiate a mitigation program for the identified areas, including moose fencing, to alleviate the possibility of moose/vehicle accidents;
  • collaborate with outfitters, Aboriginal groups, and the general public to implement a comprehensive study of the caribou populations in the province and will initiate regulations and controls that will protect the sustainability of the herds; and
  • re-establish the wildlife enforcement division back to the Department of Environment and Conservation.

 

Pesticide Control

The commercial use of cosmetic pesticides has a detrimental effect on the environment and is a threat to the health of our residents. There has been a call from several concerned groups that it will not be totally effective unless there is a province-wide ban in Newfoundland and Labrador.

A New Liberal Government commits to the implementation of a province-wide ban for the commercial use of cosmetic pesticides in Newfoundland and Labrador.

I believe I have addressed the issues that you have raised. Should you have any additional questions or concerns please feel free to contact me. Again, thank you for taking to the time to advocate for the people you represent, clarify the points from our policy platform and I look forward to working with you in the near future.

 

Kind regards,

Kevin Aylward, Leader of the Liberal Party, NL

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