Roll-Up to Pollution

It is that time of year again in Canada – not Valentine’s Day, not tax day, but Roll Up the Rim to Win time. This is a beloved Canadian season where the coffee-chain Tim Hortons runs a contest with their beverage containers.

1297527851364_ORIGINAL

Photo credit: St. Thomas Times Journal 

The contest is straightforward. Every cup you purchase, you get a chance to roll up the rim of the cup to see if you won a prize – such as a car, a gift card, or another cup of coffee.

As an environmentalist, I hate this season.

Looking at 2017 data, we know that 294 million cups were produced for the contest. We know that 0 of these cups are recyclable. Yes, those cups are NOT recyclable. I know that there are recycling bins at Tim Hortons that lead you to believe the cups can be recycled, but those containers are for plastic bottles only.  Don’t be fooled.

Your odds of winning anything in this contest are pretty slim. For the car, you have a 1 in 7.5 million chance. Of course, your chance of winning another non-recyclable cup is about 1 in 6.

If you normally use a refillable coffee mug pat yourself on the back. But, during this season Tim Hortons’ fills your cup and then gives you a non-recyclable cup to roll-up and throw out.

This contest represents terrible consumerism and waste. At least 294 million cups are going to a landfill during this contest. Yes, Tim Hortons would be producing cups anyway during this time. But sales increase during the contest (people buy more cups more often) and people stop using reusable mugs – or people who do use them get a throw-away cup.

It needs to stop. Certainly, Tim Hortons can give scratch cards to people who use refillable cups. Or they can just give scratch cards to everyone who buys a cup to play the game. The contest has been running for almost 35 years – it is ingrained in every Canadian. We promise to still call-it “Roll up the Rim to Win” as we scratch our cards and talk about the company’s green conscience.

In the meantime, I suggest you skip the roll-up craze this year. I know it is tempting. We all love a contest. We all love Tim Horton’s. But this is one game where we all lose.

 

Advertisements

Province launches Investigations against Imperial Oil Chemical Plant in Sarnia (N. Esak).

Picture1

Photo 1: Clouds of Fire from Imperial Oil Sarnia Plant

 

This past week, it was announced that investigations were on-going towards a petroleum company in the area of Sarnia. The Ministry of Environment in Ontario is leading in the investigation after clouds of fire and flames vented out from the Imperial Oil industrial plant last year on February 24th. The large flames were caused, as stated by Imperial Oil representatives, equipment malfunctions (McIntosh, 2018).

The investigation was sparked by a resident of a nearby the Aamjiwnaang First Nations reserve, Vanessa Grey, filing an application alongside a scientist from Ecojustice Elaine MacDonald, to have the province investigate in Sarnia plant (Craig, 2017). Their application was based on their claims that Sarnia residence and the Aamjiwnaang were not properly warned of the potential toxins which were released. The Ontario Environmental Commissioner, Dianne Saxe also criticized the provincial government for ignoring the serious pollution issues in many of the Indigenous communities in Ontario, let alone Aamjiwnaag (McIntosh, 2018).

Picture2. png

Photo 2: Vanessa Grey at Ontario Parliament

 

Representatives of Imperial Oil defended their actions, stating that “The sight of a small flame atop a flare, generally used to burn off materials from the plant, is common in the Chemical Valley. Though flares can result in emissions” (McIntosh, 2018). However Gray and MacDonald believed otherwise, alleging that Imperial Oil violated environmental and provincial policies through emitting the contaminants and causing hostile effects to those residents in the vicinity (McIntosh, 2018).

Moreover, a joint investigation by Global News, the Star, the National Observer, and researchers in Ryerson University was also launched. Their investigation disclosed patterns of leaks and lack of transparency with Imperial and in Sarnia. In fact, since January 2013 there have already been four instances of industries in Sarnia having already been received ministry charges (McIntosh, 2018). Also, Imperial Oil have already plead to similar offences and were fined for releasing contaminants for about $650,000 as well as a 2014 charge of 812,000 for a leak which was criticized for not enough warning to the public (Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, 2016)

It is clear from these investigations that there has already been precedent of Imperial Oil’s irresponsibility with their toxin discharges and lack of transparency towards their residents. However, this can also exhibit a pattern of the provincial government’s lack of awareness of the reckless practices their industries display as well. Though it may be impossible for the provincial government to be 100% aware of these industries actions, increased rigorous environmental inspections and public consultations with residence and First Nations may help minimize instances such as these.

The Environmental Bill of Rights investigation is set to be completed sometime in late February where the results of this case will be shared to Gary and MacDonald as well as the public (McIntosh, 2018).

 

References

Craig, S et al. (2017, October 16). ‘We expected cancer’: Are industrial spills in Canada’s ‘Chemical Valley’ making people sick? Retrieved January 14, 2018, from https://globalnews.ca/news/3796720/sarnia-oil-industry-spills-human-impact-investigation/

McIntosh, E. (2018, January 10). Province Launches Investigation into Flames at Sarnia Chemical Plant. Retrieved January 14th, 2018, from  https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2018/01/10/province-launches-investigation-into-flames-at-sarnia-chemical-plant.html

Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (2016, September 21). Sarnia Refinery and Chemical Plant fined $650,000 for Environmental Protection Act Violations. Retrived January 14, 2018, from https://news.ontario.ca/ene/en/2016/09/sarnia-refinery-and-chemical-plant-fined-650000-for-environmental-protection-act-violations.html

New report revels Ontario Gov’t knew about Continued Mercury Contamination in Grassy Narrows (N. Esak)

Blog 4

Photo: Sign contaminants in Wabigoon River System

 

The Toronto Star had recently reported this week that the provincial government had received a report back in 2016 stating that in 1990, the environment ministry at the time was aware of mercury contaminants in a mill by Grassy Narrows (Bruser, 2017). However, what is even more shocking is that this news was a surprise to the Ontario Premier, Kathleen Wynne, who said she had never heard of any such report. This was confirmed by the Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Minister, David Zimmer, when he stated this week that the report was received in September of 2016, however was never sent to the premier (CBC News, 2017).

Grassy Narrows was a community which has been suffering from mercury poisoning since the early 1970s when it was first revealed that the communities’ fish supply had extremely dangerous levels of mercury (Free Grassy Narrows, 2016). This was due to the dumping of contaminants from a nearby paper mill owned by Reed Paper which resulted in devastating effects in the community from employment rates dropping from 90% to 10%, as well as lifetime mental issues and increases in criminal activity (Free Grassy Narrows, 2016). A larger tragedy was that years later, government officials continued to reiterate that mercury was located in the river and that the river would “clean itself naturally” (Bruser, 2017). However, based on these new reports, this was not true.

“We are not sure exactly how that information hadn’t made it to my desk, but we’re asking that question”, Wynne stated last week (Bruser, 2017). When Zimmer was asked, he stated that the environment ministry was not able to, at the time, publically release the information pertaining to the report due to the fact that it was, “derived from a third-party report that is owned by Domtar and was prepared by their consultant” (Bruser, 2017)  Moreover, the environment minister during the period where the report was sent to the government, Glen Murray, told the Star that he had no recollection of being told by his staff about the information in the report (CBC News, 2017).

Blog 4-.jpg

Photo: Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne

Personally, I am reluctant to believe that the Premier of Ontario can be completely unaware about a report pertaining to a significant health issue that had occurred in the province, especially since just weeks ago, Wynne had publically stated her commitment to the rehabilitation of Grassy Narrows. Nevertheless, whether she was aware or not, top advisors and officials must have been aware of this report and decided to turn a blind eye to the issue. Ignorance is not a good enough answer as to why Wynne was not aware of this report and it is extremely irresponsible on the part of the provincial government that this report was not publically addressed as soon as it was handed in, back in 2016.

I think it was put perfectly when the environmental coordinator of Grassy Narrows stated, “I think this latest report points to the need for additional activity apart from what we’re doing in terms of cleaning up the river, but there needs to be the federal government, the First Nation, the provincial government and Health Canada sitting at the table to determine what the next steps should be” (Bruser, 2017).  This report reveals just another instance of the provincial government not putting enough effort when it comes to their commitments on indigenous issues.

Drought in Ontario: A Grim Reality (U. Khan)

I was driving home earlier this week, and I noticed that a lot of the lawns on my street seemed very dry and almost yellow in colour. After doing some research online, I was surprised to find out that Ontario has been under increasingly drought-like conditions over the past few months. If you read my earlier blog on the forest fire in Fort McMurray, you will remember the fact that an increase in the number of droughts is one of the effects of climate change. The current conditions then serve as a reminder to us about what can happen in the future as a result of climate change. Large scale droughts will be a major cause of concern for Canada as we have a major agricultural sector in our economy. We need to adopt policies that not only manage these changing conditions but also stop further damage to the environment.

Untitled

Accumulated Precipitation in Ontario over the last two months. Source: AAFC

Toronto has received only 26 mm of rain in June, compared to an average of 71.5 mm of rain that fell in June during 1981 and 2010. The lack of rain is not the only problem, in areas that have received rain comparable to their usual average, the rain has come in intense downpours of 30-40 mm at a time. Although rain is great to relieve drought conditions, such a large amount of water cannot be absorbed by the drought ridden arid ground surface. This causes the water to flow and run-off before it can be absorbed. This can also lead to flash floods and even soil degradation.

The agricultural sector in Ontario is facing smaller crop yields and higher costs this year due to the drought. Farmers have to water their crops for an increasing number of hours. Jason Verkaik, chairman of the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association says that he has been watering his crops for 20 hours a day, 6 days a week. Normally he would water them for 3 or 4 nights a week. According to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada(AAFC), extremely dry conditions now stretch from the Ottawa Valley to the Niagara Peninsula. The conditions are that of severe drought event, which happens approximately once every two decades.

 

What is being done?

The city of Guelph has declared a Level 2 Red watering restriction. This means that outside water use is now restricted to only to essential things. Lawn watering and washing vehicles is prohibited at home. Non-compliance to the restrictions can lead to a ticket of $130. Although the Region of Peel has no such restriction in place, there are a few things we can do that will conserve outdoor water use:

  • Water early in the morning or late in the afternoon to stop water loss from evaporation
  • Grow flowers and trees that do not require an abundant amount of water
  • Add mulch to your garden, this will help retain moisture and protect your lawn from water loss

More tips can be found at the Region of Peel website

The Ontario Climate Change Action Plan released earlier this year had various ideas that help to combat climate change. The government had unveiled an $8.3 billion to combat the problem of climate change, and faced criticism for the large spending. The floods that impacted Ontario in the past few years and this drought are evidence of the fact that there is a direct impact of climate change on the lives of Ontarians and the government needs to act. The Action Plan is a step in the right direction, and the government needs to be make sure that the targets presented in the plan are met in a timely fashion. The economic losses from these natural disasters are going to start adding up, and spending money to stop the problem from occurring might be better over the long term for both the environment as well as the economy.

 

Micro-beads ARE Toxic! A Follow-Up (by U. Khan)

On June 30th, 2016 the government of Canada took an important step to protect marine life, by adding microbeads to the list of toxic substances under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). If you read my previous blog post on this subject, you will remember that microbeads are plastic particles that are used in various personal care products. They often end up in our lakes and rivers and are ingested by marine life. They can accumulate toxins and bacteria and transfer them up the food chain. The government has listed microbeads ≤ 5 mm as a schedule one toxin under CEPA. This means that it will now be easier for the government to regulate them and more towards a complete ban. It also allows for the development of regulatory instruments under CEPA to manage environmental risks posed by the plastic particles. You can look up other toxic substances under schedule one here.

Untitled

A Personal Care Product containing microbeads. Source:  (Heather Brouwer/Sarnia This Week/Postmedia Network Files)

An encouraging part of this story is the fact that 5 of the largest users of microbeads in Canada have already stopped using them, and 9 others will be phasing them out in the next 2 or 3 years. Experts agree that the benefits of these plastic microbeads do not outweigh their negative effects. The exact schedule of the proposed ban is being worked out, but currently the government plans to stop the import and manufacture of these products by the end of 2017, and ban the sale by 2018. The US already has a law that will restrict the manufacture of products containing microbeads by July 1, 2017, and restrict their sale starting from July 1, 2018. With the addition of microbeads to the list of toxic substances under CEPA, Canada is one step closer to banning these harmful plastic particles.

You can read the full order on the Canadian Gazette website.

In case you are wondering what products contain(ed) microbeads, here is a partial list of products that contain microbeads in Canada:

Facial Scrubs
Brand Name Manufacturer Product Name Harmful Ingredient
Aveeno Johnson & Johnson

 

Skin Brighten Daily Scrub Polyethylene

(plastic that is used to make microbeads)

 

Aveeno Fresh Essential Daily Exfoliating Scrub
Clean & Clear Morning Burst
Clean & Clear Daily Pore Cleanser
Clean & Clear Blackhead Eraser Scrub
Neutrogena Deep Clean Scrub Exfoliate
Neutrogena Deep Clean Invigorating Foaming Scrub
Neutrogena Deep Clean Daily Scrub
Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash
Neutrogena Rapid Clear Foaming Scrub
Neutrogena All-in1 Daily Scrub
Neutrogena Oil free Acne Stress Control Power Clear Scrub
Neutrogena Oil Free Acne Wash Pink
Olay Proctor & Gamble ProX Exfoliating Renewal
Olay Pore Minimizing Cleanser + Scrub
Facial Cleaner
Brand Name Manufacturer Product Name Harmful Ingredient
Aveeno Johnson & Johnson Cream Cleanser Polyethylene (PE)

Information retrieved from Beatthebead.org

It is also worthy to note that a number of Crest Toothpastes (made by Proctor & Gamble) contained microbeads until recently, the company decided to stop using microbeads from spring 2016.

Microbeads: The Cleansing Contaminants (By U. Khan)

If you look through the personal care products around your house, you will likely find a product that contains microbeads. Microbeads are plastic particles that are 0.1nm-5mm in size. They are used as an abrasive in personal care products like facial scrubs, cosmetics, and toothpaste. Microbeads are commonly made from polyethylene, a plastic material and are terrible for the environment. They are too small to be detected by water filtration system and commonly end up in lakes and rivers. Once in the water, microbeads are ingested by fish and other aquatic species. The danger to the environment is not from the microbeads itself but from the fact that microbeads accumulate toxic chemicals as they move through the water. These chemicals can then make their way into the food chain and harm humans and animals.

The federal government has long proposed a ban on microbeads. The first attempt to ban them was started by John McKay when he introduced bill C-680 that would prohibit the sale of microbeads smaller than 5 mm. Another bill C-684 also proposed to have microbeads listed as a toxic substance under the Canada Environment Protection Act and prohibit their sale and importation. Unfortunately the bills could not proceed before the dissolution of the parliament for the 2015 elections. The current government has also expressed its interest in banning the use of microbeads in cosmetic products. This plan is currently in the public consultation phase, and the government was accepting public opinion on the ban until March 10th this year. The current government proposal is to ban the manufacturing and import of microbead containing products by 2017, and ban the sale of these products by 2018. A survey done by the Canadian Cosmetics, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association of Canada (CCTFA) found that currently members of the association use between 30kg/year to 68,000 kg/year of microbeads in their products.

Canada is behind our neighbour on the issue of plastic microbeads. The United States already created a law last year that prohibits the manufacturing of products containing microbeads from July 1st, 2017, with the aim of phasing them out in the next 2 years. Although some might argue that the microbeads have a useful purpose and the government has no right to ban them outright. I think that there are other alternatives to microbeads that can be used as an abrasive material in cleansing products. This article by the Huffington post explores some of these alternatives, which include biodegradable as well as rice-based cleansers. The negative impact of these microbeads on both marine and human health is immense as found by various research studies. Therefore, the government should go forward with the ban as it is the best plan forward for the environment.

What can we all do to help solve this problem?

The biggest impact we can all have on this issue is to not buy products that contain these microbeads. Consumers have a lot of power and if we collectively decide to not buy these products, businesses will have to listen and stop creating them. Loblaws has already stated that they will stop making products that contain microbeads by 2018. We can also try to look for innovative solutions for cleaning up the bodies of water that already have a large quantity of microbeads. Students at one Mississauga high school recently created a new filtration system for microbeads. The students won the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Award for $ 50,000 to develop the idea and create the filtration system. The system works by making water containing microbeads flow through a charged tube and having the negatively charged microbeads attach to a positively charged plate that can be removed from the water. This shows that there is something we can all do to help keep our lakes and rivers free of microbeads.

Say No to Site-C

Things are heating up with Site-C. At the time I wrote The Canadian Environment in Political Context there was not too much to say/guess about the Site-C dam in British Columbia. So it is only briefly mentioned in Chapters 8 (Energy) and 9 (Indigenous Politics). But now over 300 scholars have signed a statement AGAINST Site-C. I don’t need to say too much about it here because there is already a great webpage that explains everything. Check it out:

site c

Blue-green Algae: A Colourful Menace (By U. Khan)

If you have ever walked beside a lake or river in the summer, you might have noticed a blue-green color in the water or surrounding rocks. This gel like substance floating on top of the water is a group of microorganisms known as cyanobacteria or commonly referred to as blue-green algae. Blue-green algae are plant like organisms that grow in bodies of water, and require nutrients like phosphorous and nitrogen to survive. When these algae bloom, they use up the dissolved oxygen in the water and cause fish and other marine species to die. The can also produce toxins that contaminate water supplies and are deadly to marine life. The problem of algal blooms has been reoccurring in various lakes and rivers across Canada since the 1970s, and has yet to be solved.

algae

Satellite view of the algal bloom in Lake Erie on July 28th 2015 Source: NASA

Lake Erie has become notorious for its algal blooms. In 2014, 400,000 people in Toledo were without tap water for two days due to algal blooms in Lake Erie. In 2015, Lake Erie witnessed another large algal bloom. These events have put a lot of attention on the problem of algal blooms in the region, and have put increased pressure on the government to deal with these problems. Earlier this year, the Ontario government released the Ontario Great Lakes Strategy 2016 Progress Report. This report is a review of the Ontario Great Lakes Strategy, a document published in 2012 which laid out Ontario’s efforts to preserve the great lakes. One major accomplishment of the government in the years since the creation of the Ontario Great Lakes Strategy is the passing of the Great Lakes Protection Act 2015. This act has created new monitoring programs for water quality, and allowed the government to set specific targets in improving the water quality in the great lakes. Another major sign of progress is the Basin of Lake Erie Collaborative Agreement signed in June 2015, with includes a bi-national goal to reduce phosphorous emissions into Lake Erie by 40% of 2008 levels by 2025. A key issue in targeting algal blooms in the great lakes is the fact that there are multiple jurisdictions in the area. Agricultural run-off from Michigan and Ohio contribute a large share to the total phosphorous levels. The fact that this agreement involves both Canada and the US is a great move. A study by the University of Michigan University has found that although the current goal is tough, it is achievable if large changes are made by a widespread number of actors. I believe that the content presented in the Progress Report is an indicator that the government has taken steps to deal with the problems of algal blooms, but the fact remains that most of the ideas are targets for the future and actual work needs to be done on the ground to achieve these targets.

Outside of the great lakes, algal blooms have also been an issue in Lake Winnipeg. The problems associated with algal blooms in this region are not only health related but also economic. Fishing and tourism provide many jobs for local businesses and are most affected by algal blooms. According to a 2013 study, the levels of phosphorous in the lake are above the recommended limit in both the northern basin as well as the southern basin of the lake. Projects funded by the Lake Winnipeg Stewardship Fund have done well to reduce the amount of phosphorous seeping into Lake Winnipeg. As of March 2015,14800kg of phosphorous runoff per year has been stopped from entering the lake and its tributaries.

So what does it all mean?

Algal blooms result from access nutrients being present in a body of water. These access nutrients are most often the result of agricultural runoff. Algal blooms have negative effects on both local environments as well as commercial activities wherever they occur. The government needs to take a more proactive approach in dealing with these algal blooms. The recent blooms in both Lake Erie as well as Lake Winnipeg after record lows were achieved in the 1990s show that the government has not made it a priority to reduce algal blooms. The creation of new legislation is a great sign that the government is finally moving in the right direction on this issue. A collective effort between all the different ministries and aboriginal communities as well as local communities needs to occur for a healthy water system. There also needs to be cooperation between Canada and the US in this matter as water is a shared resource between our two countries.

Something’s fishy about the oceans (By A. Koundourakis)

At the World Wildlife Fund Annual Oceans Summit, the Federal government released that they are investing $197.1 million over five years to increase ocean and freshwater scientific research and monitoring. The Minister of Fisheries, The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, announced the Liberal government’s marine conservation targets of protecting 5 percent of Canada’s marine and coastal areas by 2017 and 10 percent by 2020. In the 2016 Budget, there was an $81.3 million investment over five years to be allocated to Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Natural Resources Canada to support marine conservation activities. Also, there will be a $42.4 million investment over five years to continue work on developing new National Parks and National Marine Conservation Areas.

Dha.do

Dominic LeBlanc, Catherine McKenna and Carolyn Bennett at the WWF Annual Oceans Summit (http://news.gc.ca/web/Dha.do?mltmdid=6060)

Whether this target is considered ambitious or not, this investment in the longest coastline in the world is extremely important because we depend on our oceans for a healthy environment and economy. Canada has unrivalled ocean and freshwater resources, and we need to protect and expand our marine regions in order to reach our conservation targets. Furthermore, by protecting the coastline, we are helping to protect our oceans, which provide half of our oxygen production and regulates Earth’s temperature. Not to mention the economic significance it carries through the fishing and tourism industries. Needless to say, every Canadian will be impacted by this investment in marine protection as it is extremely vital to maintain and improve our quality of life.

The Federal government has a five point plan to achieve their conservation targets. These include:

  • Advance the work already underway in areas progressing towards establishment including the proposed Lancaster Sound NMCA and five proposed Oceans Act MPAs: Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reeds, Anguniaqvia Niqiqyuam, Laurentian Channel, Anns Bank and Banc des Americains.
  • Establish new, large Oceans Act MPAs in pristine offshore areas.
  • Establish additional Oceans Act MPAs in areas under pressure from human activities.
  • Identify existing and establish new other effective area-based conservation measures, particularly to protect sensitive sponge and coral concentrations.
  • Examine how the Oceans Act can be updated to facilitate the designation process for MPAs, without sacrificing science, or the public opportunity to provide input.

The Liberal government’s approach to meeting their targets would be guided by three principals: science-based decision making; transparency and advancing reconciliation with Indigenous groups.

The understanding and protection of marine ecosystems relies on our ability to bring complex and diverse sources of information that are based on the scientific method. These are then dependant on further peer review. Furthermore, other sources of information can be sourced from traditional aboriginal knowledge and by industry and local knowledge.

In order to meet our conservation targets, Canada will require full cooperation of the federal, provincial and territorial governments, Indigenous peoples, industries, academics and environmental NGOs. The collaboration of actors and stakeholders will provide opportunities for Canada to reach its conservation targets.

Traditional aboriginal knowledge will be used to highlight the importance of an area and its resources to the traditions and economies of local communities. The Liberal government has announced that it will respect treaties in existence and support the advancements of modern treaties that are under review.

According to the National Post, during the event Shell Canada President, Michael Crothers, also made an announcement that corporations will be working in cooperation with the government to meet the targets. For example, Shell is voluntarily contributing their Lancaster Sound permits for marine conservation in the arctic. These permits cover 8,600 square kilometres north of Baffin Island. This announcement is particularly noteworthy, because protecting Canada’s Northern waters would ensure that dozens of Arctic species would have year round safety for the very foreseeable future. This is a considerable win for the future of the ecosystem. David Miller and Devon Page, the CEO of WWF and executive director of Ecojustice, respectively, remarked that this is a massive win for their organizations, both of whom were fighting for preservation of the region. This cooperation between industry and government highlights the importance of the mutual understanding that marine ecosystems must be protected. Hopefully, it’s an indication of more cooperation between industries and governments to come.

So, here’s my two cents. For anyone that read my blurb about myself, I’m all for anything related to protecting anything water. I drink it, I swim in it, and I depend on it every day of my life. The Earth depends on it; oceans regulate global temperatures and provide ecosystems for organisms that produce oxygen for us to breath. Life as we know it was created in the ocean. It is our responsibility to protect it.

I’ve been a huge fan of the Cousteau family and their contribution to protecting the ocean. Also, for anyone interested, this kid named Boyan Slat started a massive venture to clean plastic out of the ocean. He designed nets that sit on the ocean’s surface and they passively scoop up plastic. The benefits from his company have the same benefits as Canada’s coastal investment. For example, reaching the conservation targets will save hundreds of thousands of aquatic species that call the coastline their home; the cost of pollution and damages will be reduced due to the protection policies; and finally, human health will be improved due to the reduction of bioaccumulation from the chemicals that are killing ecosystems.

Perhaps the Liberal government could follow Slat’s example and look towards a global collaboration of governments and corporations to improve the marine environment. I have no doubt that international water treaty is a tricky legal subject, however, the Federal government could lead the world by looking beyond our own borders and into much more polluted parts of the world.

Sources:

http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=1081779&tp=1

http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?mthd=tp&crtr.page=1&nid=1081789

http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/oceans/oceansday-journeedesoceans/index-eng.html#importance

http://www.theoceancleanup.com/problem.html

http://www.desmog.ca/2016/06/08/shell-gives-nearly-40-year-fight-expired-arctic-permits-opening-conservation-area

http://business.financialpost.com/news/energy/shell-canada-donates-controversial-arctic-exploration-permits-for-marine-conservation-area?__lsa=f513-b47f

Tootoo’s Goals

Hunter Tootoo, a businessman and Member of Parliament from Nunavut, was selected by Justin Trudeau to serve as Canada’s Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard.

Tootoo was born and raised in Rankin. He served as member of Nunavut’s Legislative Assembly (Iqaluit Centre) from 1999 to 2013. While a MLA he served in cabinet as the Minister of Education and the Minister Responsible for the Nunavut Housing Corporation, Homelessness.

In his Minister of Fisheries, Oceans Mandate Letter, the Office of the Prime Minister asked Mr. Tootoo to prioritize and implement these goals:

  1. Base decisions about ecosystem management (including fish stocks) on scientific evidence and the precautionary principle.
  2. Work with all stakeholders – namely the provinces, territories, and Indigenous people – to co-manage Canada’s three oceans.
  3. Support Minister McKenna in protecting the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence River Basin, and the Lake Winnipeg Basin.
  4. Work on restoring sockeye salmon stocks in the Fraser River (as recommended by the Cohen Commission).
  5. Review the Harper’s governments’ changes to the Fisheries and Navigable Waters Protection Acts – and incorporate modern safeguards (this is to be done with the Minister of Transport.
  6. Formalize a federal moratorium on crude oil tanker traffic on BC’s north coast (work with Ministers of Transport, Natural Resouces, and Environment & Climate Change).
  7. In conjunction with the Minister of Environment & Climate Change and Minister of Natural Resources, review Canada’s environmental assessment process and “introduce new, fair processes that will: restore robust oversight and thorough environmental assessments of areas under federal jurisdiction, while also working with provinces and territories to avoid duplication; ensure that decisions are based on science, facts, and evidence, and serve the public interest; provide ways for Canadians to express their views and opportunities for experts to meaningfully participate; and require project advocates to choose the best technologies available to reduce environmental impacts.”
  8. Re-open the Maritime Rescue Sub-centre in St. John’s, Newfoundland and the Kitsilano Coast Guard Base in Vancouver.
  9. Fulfill the commitments of the National Shipbuilding and Procurement Strategy to obtain new Coast Guard Vessels.
  10. Improve Marine Safety
  11. Examine the implications of climate change on Arctic marine ecosystems (in conjunction with the Minister of Environment & Climate Change and the Minister of Transport).

Of these 11 goals, only 3 are not directly related to the environment (8, 9, and 10). The other 8 are all environmental goals – although a few can be read as natural resource issues (ie. restoring salmon stocks is also about our economy). This means Catherine McKenna and Hunter Tootoo are going to have to work together closely to implement most – if not all – of their goals.