“Canada is falling short” Elizabeth May agrees with the Environment Commissioner’s assessment

April 24, 2018
(OTTAWA) — The Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Julie Gelfand, tabled three reports in Parliament today — on salmon aquaculture, conserving biodiversity and on Canada’s preparedness to implement the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. All three reports indicate that the Government is falling short on its commitments to Canadians and the international community.

“These reports demonstrate failure in critical areas,” said Elizabeth May (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands). “Wild salmon populations remain endangered on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. And, protection of wild salmon from toxic fish factories discharging pathogens, disease and toxic substances is inadequate.”

“We need to shut down open-pen fish aquaculture and move them to land. Let’s start by implementing the recommendations of the 2012 Cohen Commission and, in the meantime, follow Washington State which no longer issues salmon aquaculture licences,” said Ms. May.

“The Commissioner notes that Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) are not on track to meet numerous Canada 2020 biodiversity targets, including lowering pollution levels in Canadian waters and recovering healthy aquatic ecosystems. The ECCC removed the deadline to reduce phosphorus levels in Lake Erie by 2025. This is a step back.

“Basically we’re without leadership, oversight and the proper capacity to assess risk,” said Ms. May. “The Commissioner makes that abundantly clear when she says, ‘It’s hard to make progress with 10 hands on the wheel’. We should follow Germany, which created a sustainable development strategy for implementing the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Not to mention the Swiss who have integrated the UN’s17 sustainable development goals into nine key action areas. In other words, we know it’s possible.”

She urged Fisheries and Oceans Minister Dominic LeBlanc to overhaul the regulatory framework that monitors marine life and coastlines. “There’s a conflict of interest at the heart of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. They are mandated to protect our coastlines and fish stocks and encourage economic growth through the expansion of aquaculture. The evidence suggests the department takes its economic mandate more seriously than its ecological regulatory role. That’s why I recommend that the mandate for economic growth be transferred to Agriculture Canada so that Fisheries and Oceans can properly fulfil its ecological mandate.

“It is in the national interest to provide national leadership on environmental policy and sustainable development. The Trudeau administration’s stated good intentions must be accompanied by the hard work of competent scientists and engineers and the implementation of sound managerial practices, not just self-promoting public relations and attending conferences.”