Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 2 (Bill C-4)

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I am very interested in this proposal. I am glad to have the opportunity to pose a question directly to the member in whose riding the Dominion Coal Blocks are found.

I think a lot of people were relieved to hear that the federal government was paying attention to the ecological sensitivity of these lands in announcing earlier this fall that not all of the Dominion Coal Blocks would be put up for sale. Those who paid attention will know that this is an area of unique ecological importance and of transboundary importance. In fact, the United Nations has spoken of the critical importance of restricting mining in the area because of any threat to the waters in Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, which at this point is the longest remaining wildlife corridor on the continent.

My question for the hon. member is this: of the 20,000 hectares in the Dominion Coal Blocks, how much will the federal government set aside to ensure ecological integrity, and not sell to metallurgical coal development?

David Wilks: Mr. Speaker, part of what is referred to as parcel 82 is subdivided and will be guaranteed to have no mining extraction from it. The part that flows into the Elk River drainage will be open for mineral extraction; the part that flows into the Flathead drainage will be protected from any mining at all. Lot 73, which falls north of parcel 82, will be open for bidding.

The member brings up a very valuable response. It is important for Canadians to understand that in this very interesting part of the country, heavy industry works very well with the environment. We have learned how to play well in the sandbox. We have some of the best ecological areas in all of North America and we are working side by side with heavy industry. It is in things like this, as the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands said, that we can agree that there are certain areas that we just cannot touch. We have come to understand that in the Elk Valley, and we are very proud of it.