On June 26, 2014, the Harper Government "celebrated"
the launch of the National Conservation
Plan. The Plan essentially involves throwing lots
of money ($252 million over five years) at "securing
ecologically sensitive lands," "supporting conservation
efforts," wetlands restoration, and "to encourage
Canadians to connect with nature close to home through protected
areas and green spaces located in or near urban areas."
According to the Prime Minister, the
NCP will work towards Canada's biodiversity goals, "that
is, protecting 17 per cent of our land and inland waters, and 10
percent of our marine and coastal areas."
NCP was a commitment made in the
2013 Speech from the Throne. Interestingly, in 2013,
Canada ranked dead last when it comes to protecting the environment
by the Washington-based Center for Global
Development. The rankings assess 27 wealthy
nations annually on their commitment to seven areas that impact the
A senior fellow at the Center who
prepared the index said the environment category has become one of
the "bright spots" in the survey. "Environment is
the one part of our index that has really seen improvement and
Canada has been the only country that's fallen," he said.
"My expectation would have been that Canada is environmentally
friendly, Canadians all seem to take the environment
seriously." The major reasons for Canada's rank, he
said, were pulling out of the Kyoto Protocol and having one of the
highest levels of greenhouse gas production per capita. The
Globe and Mail reported last month that
marine areas are better protected by China than Canada.
Environmental groups, like the Green Budget
Coalition, have critiqued Harper's National
Conservation Plan in great detail. For example, all the money
earmarked to protect sensitive habitats is pledged to the Nature
Conservancy, which deals solely in private lands. Private
lands only made up 10 percent of the Canadian landscape and are
centered around urban areas in southern Canada.
At a news conference in May, Harper said the true
goal of the plan is to "foster an appreciation of nature in
all Canadians." And that, "An ethic of true
stewardship cannot be imposed by regulation, it is of the
We are all for governments
earmarking significant funds for conservation efforts and for
creating more green space in urban areas, but given Canada's
dismal 2013 rankings by the Center for Global Development on
environmental protection, one has to wonder if the plan isn't
at least partially directed towards fixing Canada's sagging
reputation. Maybe regulations cannot impose an ethic of
stewardship, but regulations can pull Canada out of the
embarrassing rank of dead last when it comes to protecting the
If Canadians truly appreciate
nature, and our international reputation is (or at least has been)
that we do, then why are we letting our elected leaders fall behind
the rest of the world when it comes to environmental
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