CPAWS NL Asks Political Leaders Questions About the Environment
On October 29th 2015, CPAWS NL sent a voter questioner letter to the three parties ( Liberal, Progressive Conservatives (PC), and the New Democratic Party (NDP)) running in the upcoming 2015 provincial elections. The following are the direct responses from the questions proposed about 4 environmental campaigns:
Will you create a buffer zone around Gros Morne National Park?
Liberal Party -The Liberal Party strongly values Gros Morne National Park as a truly unique, globally significant area, of which all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians may be proud. The vital importance of protecting Gros Morne is clear – in terms of its ecological and geological significance, its pristine scenic landscapes, and the strong and sustainable tourism industry that has become so important for adjacent communities.
We understand that stakeholders will rightfully be concerned anytime there is proposed development that could impact Gros Morne. The establishment of a buffer zone as recommended by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is one potential solution to address such concerns and strengthen protection measures for the future.
A New Liberal Government will be open to considering the potential benefits of implementing a buffer zone around the park, working in consultation with local communities, conservation groups, the federal government, and cross-sector representation from involved industries.
NDP - Yes
PC - It is our understanding that Gros Morne National Park was defined to include buffer regions within its boundary. We certainly have no desire or intention to see the park damaged. It is a treasure. If there are specific concerns that the park is at risk, we are willing to listen and to act appropriately to protect the park.
Will you publicly release the province’s Natural Areas System Plan (NASP)?
Liberal - The PC Government has let their stated goal of establishing and releasing a Natural Areas System Plan fall by the wayside. As a result of the current patchwork approach to environmental conservation, we are far behind the rest of Canada when it comes to protected areas. Environment Canada reports that Newfoundland and Labrador has less than 5% of its territory under protection, the third lowest among provinces and territories.
From wilderness, wildlife and ecological reserves to sanctuaries, parks and national historic sites, protected areas help preserve the natural beauty of our province. Advancing protected areas planning is central to environmental and cultural conservation, as well as to sustainable development. A well-governed and scientifically-based system for designating protected areas has the potential to benefit not only our environment, but our economy, through ecotourism and research endeavors. The need for a well-defined system, including a list of new and planned protected areas, is clear.
A New Liberal Government will finalize the province’s Natural Areas System Plan and publicly release it.
PC- Yes. We will publicly release the Natural Areas System Plan for protected areas. We believe in releasing all information that belongs in the public domain. We pride ourselves on being the most open and transparent government in Canada in light of our bold new Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, and we are actively engaged in an Open Government Initiative, which includes proactive disclosure of information that belongs in the public domain.
Will you launch a feasibility study with Parks Canada for a National Marine Conservation Area for the southwest coast fjords of Newfoundland?
Liberal-The Liberal Party understands the potential benefits of establishing a 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.
PC- We will consider the implications of this proposal and make the decision that, on balance, is in the best interests of the people of our province.
Will you establish the Eagle River Provincial Waterway Park?
Liberal -The PC Government announced their intention to establish the Eagle River Provincial Waterway Park in 2010, along with the announcement for the proposed Mealy Mountains National Park Reserve. Now that the Mealy Mountains land transfer agreement between the provincial and federal governments has been finalized, it is time to focus on Eagle River.
A provincial waterway park has the potential to promote ecological conservation and enhance tourism opportunities for the region. We recognize that the creation of the new waterway park must be done in full consultation with local stakeholders, including communities and current land and resource users, such as outfitters, hunters, and fishers. A New Liberal Government will proceed with these next steps.
PC- We will consider this proposal. Establishing a park requires a financial commitment, and such a decision must be made only after the appropriate information has been collected and the implications of the choices before us are understood. We will work collaboratively with the people of the region and others when considering this proposal. Enhancing our park infrastructure is in line with our policies to grow our tourism industry and to promote recreation and fitness. The concept sounds intriguing and worth considering.
As a non-partisan organization, we do not make recommendations or endorsements of any candidates for public office; we simply give each candidate an equal platform to share their perspective, and ask that you consider their comments when you vote on November 30th.