CTV News | Federal Election 2019
Trudeau sets new land and ocean protection targets for 2025
OTTAWA - Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau on Thursday promised measures to conserve a greater chunk of Canadian wildlife and oceans by 2025, continuing with a series of environment-based policy announcements over the last several days.
Trudeau said a re-elected Liberal government would safeguard 25 per cent of Canada’s land and 25 per cent of its oceans. He made the announcement at a campaign stop in Sudbury, Ont., flanked by the candidate for the region Paul Lefebvre.
In 2015, the Liberals promised to protect 17 per cent of terrestrial area and inland waters, and 10 per cent of oceans by 2020. According to the Environment Canada website, by the end of 2018, 11.3 per cent of land and 7.9 per cent marine territory was preserved.
The Conservation 2020 website – which outlines steps to improve conservation across the country with input from Indigenous groups, all levels of government, non-governmental groups, and the private sector – states that Canada has surpassed the 2015 oceans goal but indeed lags when it comes to land.
In an interview with CTVNews.ca, the director of conservation at the Canadian Wildlife Federation, David Browne, said it’s unlikely Canada will gain those remaining percentage points in land conservation, which he said will affect our international ranking – one that shows we’re already lagging behind other G7 nations.
"I don’t think in a year we’ll get there." said Browne. "It puts us pretty high internationally, because not a lot of countries are stepping up and meeting that, but I don’t think it puts us ahead of the United States."
For Trudeau’s part, he reiterated in the press conference that "Over the next 11 years, Canada will meet and indeed surpass our 2030 targets."
When asked how the Liberals will tackle conserving the next portion – taking into consideration mass land development and deforestation efforts – Trudeau did not answer the question directly, pledging instead to do better than the targets “inherited” from the last Tory government, led by Stephen Harper.
He added that the Conservatives “did absolutely nothing” with those targets. He also drew parallels between the policy choices of Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer.
“They cut taxes for the wealthy and the big polluters and cut services for everybody else,” said Trudeau. “Andrew Scheer who’s vowed that his first act as prime minister would be to make pollution free again, wants you to double down on Conservative politicians.”
The national executive director of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Sandra Schwartz, told CTVNews.ca that while her organization hoped the targets were higher, she’s happy with any advance to conservation efforts by politicians.
“There’s a growing body of scientific evidence that anywhere from 30 to 70 per cent of ecosystems are required in order to safeguard our own wellbeing,” she said. “It’s a step in the right direction.”
Schwartz said Canada has an opportunity – as the second largest country in the world, home to 20 per cent of the earth’s wild forest – to become a world leader on conservation.
“It’s our identity as Canadians, which is so deeply connected to wild spaces that provide homes to iconic species,” she added. “We think as a legacy, our country needs to be at the forefront of protecting these spaces.”
The Green Party and the NDP have promised a target of 30 per cent land protection, while the Conservative Party has not set out a specific goal.
During the announcement, the Liberal leader also confirmed he would be participating in the Montreal climate strike on Friday – one of the many happening across the globe to raise awareness and stimulate action on climate change.
Climate activist Greta Thunberg is also expected to attend.