In a July 19 media release, NDP National Parks Critic, Wayne Stetski (Kootenay–Columbia), made the following statement in honour of Canada Parks Day 2018:
“Today we celebrate Canada’s national, provincial and community parks, which allow Canadians across the country to enjoy captivating landscapes and to connect with our spectacular natural heritage.
Our national parks belong to all Canadians – both present and future. The Liberal government has promised to achieve our international conservation commitments to protect 17% of our land and freshwater, and 10% of our oceans by 2020. They also promised to prioritize ecological integrity in managing our parks. It is essential that these words be turned into action.
This week, Environment and Climate Change Canada released an exhaustive, 561-page study of Wood Buffalo National Park, which found that almost every aspect of the Park’s environment is deteriorating, due to industrial hydro and oil sands activities, as well as the impacts of climate change. Indigenous groups, environmental organizations and even UNESCO have repeatedly called for Canada to ensure better protections for Wood Buffalo, a World Heritage Site.
Indigenous leaders and stakeholder groups have raised serious concerns about the federal government’s failure to truly prioritize conservation and the preservation of biodiversity in our parks and protected areas. Groups like WWF-Canada have also voiced concerns about weak protections for our marine conservation areas, which allow industrial activities like oil and gas exploration within their borders, seriously undermining their ability to preserve biodiversity.
This week, CPAWS’ 2018 Parks Report confirmed that Canada has an opportunity to act as a global conservation leader. We can achieve our 2020 targets – and boldly look forward to set broader targets that more accurately reflect the connectivity our ecosystems need.
We need strong government leadership to ensure that our parks and protected areas are not just lines drawn on a map and are preserved for generations to come.”