Nááts’ihch’oh National Park Reserve Act (Bill S-5)

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I concur entirely with the concern of the member for Northwest Territories about tourism in this country. Having seen Canada drop from 7th most visited country in 2002 to 18th in 2011, one can draw some lines.

One of the concerning things is that the largest market for tourists to Canada is visitors from the United States, but under the current administration, all tourism advertising in the U.S. market has been cancelled. The only product we are advertising in the United States is bitumen.

I would like to ask him about the Nááts’ihch’oh. He hinted at his concern about the smaller boundaries. We know that the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and many other conservationists on the ground believe these smaller boundaries will not be adequate to protect the South Nahanni. I want to ask if he shares those concerns.

Dennis Bevington: Mr. Speaker, those concerns were shared among 92% of the people who had opinions on it in the public process. As a citizen and representative of the people of the Northwest Territories, I too have those concerns. When we set up a park, we set it up to provide protection for certain values, whether those values are wildlife or the watershed. Those are things that we do.

I live next to Wood Buffalo National Park, an area that is considerably larger than this park. It is the largest park in Canada, the largest area in North America with no seismic lines. It is the largest area where there is a complete biosphere. It is an amazing area, and we have paid the price for that. In my community, I would love to see more tourism related to it because, of course, that is a big part of the landscape of northern Alberta and southern N.W.T.

When we take out land, we must provide other answers for people. It is a two-way street. The choices have been made. This is what the Conservative government has put forward. We can live with this, but is it the best solution? The people who looked at it in detail said no.