Prime Minister Harper Announces Measures To Support Conservation And Canada’s Outdoor Community

September 4, 2015

BACKGROUNDER

THE ISSUE

The Government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper has made the conservation of Canada’s natural environment a top priority. We have also promoted and supported rural economic development.

Prime Minister Harper’s conservation record is historic. The 2014 National Conservation Plan set out an ambitious plan to secure ecologically sensitive lands, support voluntary conservation and restoration actions, and strengthen marine and coastal conservation. Additional initiatives have restored wetlands and encouraged Canadians to connect with nature close to home through protected areas and green spaces located in or near urban areas.

This work builds upon a record that includes (but is not limited to):

  • A six-fold expansion of the Nahanni National Park Reserve in the Northwest Territories, considered to be a significant conservation achievement.
  • Moving forward with consultations to establish the Thaidene Nëné National Park Reserve which will cover 14,000 square kilometres in the Northwest Territories.
  • Securing almost 4,000 km² of ecologically sensitive private lands.
  • Adding an area nearly twice the size of Vancouver Island to the network of federal protected areas, including the world’s first protected area extending from the mountain tops to the sea floor (Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site) and the world’s largest freshwater protected area (Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area).
  • Creating three National Wildlife Areas (Akpait, Ninginganiq and Qaqulluit) in Nunavut, protecting 4,554 km2 of marine, coastal and terrestrial habitats including the world’s sanctuary for bowhead whales.
  • Designating three new Marine Protected Areas under the Oceans Act: Musquash Estuary in New Brunswick, Bowie Seamount off the coast of British Columbia, and Tarium Niryutait in the Beaufort Sea.
  • Investing nearly $6 million under the Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnerships Program to support 94 fisheries habitat restoration projects across Canada. Funding to support up to an additional 128 projects, for a total of up to $5.5 million, is underway.
  • Creating the Rouge National Urban Park.
  • Taking steps to improve water quality in the Great Lakes, Lake Simcoe, and Lake Winnipeg, rehabilitated recreational fisheries habitat, and are working to clean up contaminated sites.
  • Supporting partners in the delivery of hundreds of local projects to protect species at risk and their habitats.

Many of these efforts have been informed by the government’s Hunting and Angling Advisory Panel – which we established in May 2012 with members from hunting, trapping, angling and conservation organizations – to advise the Government on a range of federal policies, programs and activities related to conservation.

Our Government has also supported the economic development opportunities related to Canada’s sporting industries. A 2012 report by the then-Canadian Tourism Commission concluded that “the sport fishing and hunting tourism industry not only injects large amounts of revenue into the economy but provides increased job opportunities, supporting numerous small and medium sized businesses.”[1]

Yukon provides a great example of this kind of economic development. Yukon is a fishing & hunting paradise, with 70 pristine rivers, countless cold water lakes, and one of the world’s most desirable still-wild regions.

That’s why the Conservative Government has supported partnerships with national and regional groups to bolster economic opportunities with respect to Canada’s sporting industries and create new jobs in these industries. These include: partnering with the National Trails Coalition to upgrade Canada’s network of snowmobile and all-terrain-vehicle trails for greater safety and to attract tourism and with the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters and other groups to restore recreational fisheries habitat in part to bolster the recreational fishing industry.[2]

The Harper Government understands that celebrating Canada’s outdoor heritage also means supporting the millions of Canadians who engage in responsible outdoor activities. That is why our Government is determined to support common sense firearms legislation that tackles the real problem of the criminal use of firearms but does not persecute or penalize those who use firearms responsibly and lawfully.

Justin Trudeau takes a different approach. His party originally brought in the national long-gun registry and defended it vigorously while in Opposition. The Liberals consistently ignored the massive cost of the registry and its ineffectiveness. Justin now speaks about the need to “reclassify” firearms – code for banning firearms without regard to their responsible use by Canadians for generations.

Thomas Mulcair has said that the NDP would bring back the long-gun registry and would track every legal gun in Canada despite the proven costs and ineffectiveness. Specifically, Thomas Mulcair has said: “I think that it is possible to provide the police with the tools to better protect the public and themselves by making sure they’re able to follow every gun …”.

Thomas Mulcair and Justin have also opposed the Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act – Bill C-42 – despite its balanced approach to reducing unnecessary red tape for responsible gun owners while strengthening public safety, through mandatory firearms training for new gun owners and new Criminal Code provisions prohibiting those convicted of domestic violence from possessing firearms. New legislation that would penalize lawful gun owners is a virtual certainty under either Justin Trudeau or Thomas Mulcair.

THE PLAN

Building on the Harper Government’s strong commitment to conservation and to Canada’s outdoor community, a re-elected Conservative Government will:

  • Provide funding to Destination Canada to promote angling, hunting, and snowmobiling tourism in Canada.
  • Create a Wildlife Conservation and Enhancement Program that improves habitat for species harvested by hunters and trappers.
  • Enact new migratory bird regulations to establish a family hunting permit.
  • Ensure the approval of more firearms safety instructors by using powers in the recently-passed Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act.
  • Reject the reimposition of the long-gun registry and instead preserve a common sense approach to gun control which protects public safety without imposing unnecessary burdens on firearms owners.

These initiatives have been developed in close consultation with hunting, angling, trapping and conservation groups, and will support new jobs and economic development opportunities in rural communities across the country.

A re-elected Harper Government will place a stronger emphasis on promoting tourism for recreational fishing, hunting, and snowmobiling. We will provide $9 million over three years to Destination Canada beginning in 2016-17 to promote Canada’s conservation and heritage industries in the American tourist market, with the specific objective of attracting recreational anglers, hunters, and snowmobilers to Canada.

The new Wildlife Conservation and Enhancement Program will fund community projects to improve the habitat of species harvested by hunters and trappers. This will include restoring wetlands for ducks and migratory birds, controlled burns to sustain moose habitat, and timber rotation for wild turkey populations. The program will have a $5 million annual budget and will launch beginning in 2017-18.

The modernization of Migratory Bird regulations will improve the management of hunting for migratory birds in Canada and will remove unnecessary barriers to hunting. Key components of the initiative include: developing a family hunting permit to allow for hunting by immediate family members on a single permit; replacing the requirement to label individual harvested birds with a simpler requirement to label packages of birds; and permitting the use of crossbows in hunting.

Our common sense firearm reforms make classroom participation in firearm safety courses mandatory for first-time license applicants. To support this common sense approach to firearm safety instruction, a re-elected Harper Government will ensure that there are an appropriate number of firearm safety instructors to support the new mandatory firearms safety requirement. The Government will deliver on this commitment by prescribing by regulation that Chief Firearms Officers must ensure a sufficient number of qualified firearms trainers in their respective jurisdiction commensurate with demand.

THE CHOICE

Canadians have a choice between the common sense approach adopted by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Government, which aims to conserve and foster Canada’s outdoor heritage while respecting Canada’s lawful firearms owners, versus the approach being advocated by Justin Trudeau and Thomas Mulcair.

Justin and Thomas Mulcair’s NDP would bring back the disrespectful, costly and divisive policies of the past. Law-abiding Canadian gun owners would again become unjust targets and scapegoats for the criminal and irresponsible use of firearms in which they have no part. Justin and Thomas Mulcair’s NDP would almost certainly move to ban certain classes of firearms now held by law abiding firearms owners and re-impose the long-gun registry.

The Harper Government respects the rights of Canadian firearms owners who use their firearms responsibly. We believe in working closely with Canada’s conservation and outdoor community to preserve and protect all aspects of Canada’s rich outdoor heritage for future generations to enjoy.

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[1] See: http://en.destinationcanada.com/sites/default/files/pdf/Research/Product-knowledge/Product-research/07082013_the_hunting_landscape_rev1.pdf.
[2] According to a survey on recreational fishing in Canada, recreational fishing generates approximately $8.3 billion of economic activities to local economies across Canada.

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