Sierra Club of Canada - Rio Report Card


.1998



TABLE OF CONTENTS - Federal Government

Federal Report Card Summary

1. Commitment to Overseas Development Assistance

2. Commitment to Reduce Greenhouse Gases

3. Commitment to Protect Biodiversity

4. Commitment to Review and Reform Pesticide Policies

5. Commitment to Environmental Assessment

6. Agenda 21 Commitment to Make Trade and Environment Mutually Supportive
 
7. Commitment to the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Living Marine Resources

8. Commitments to Indigenous Peoples

9. Incorporating Environmental Concerns into Every Aspect of Government Decision Making

10. Forests

Conclusion


TABLE OF CONTENTS - Provincial Governments

Provincial Report Card Summary

Newfoundland

Nova Scotia

Prince Edward Island

New Brunswick

Quebec

Ontario

Manitoba

Saskatchewan

Alberta

British Columbia

Northwest Territories

Yukon


Notes



G.H. Brundtland High School
M. Strong, Principal


SIXTH ANNUAL RIO REPORT CARD

Curriculum: Based on commitments made at the United Nations Conference on
Environment and Development, June 1992

Students: Jean, Paul, Ralph, Christine and the Government of Canada
 

SUBJECT


GRADE


COMMENTS


1. Commitment to increase Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) to 0.7% of GNP.

D

Slight improvement - must see more effort here.
2. Commitment to reduce greenhouse gases.

Incomplete

Action required - not more process.
3. Commitment to protect biodiversity.

F

Ditto the grade from Professor Emmett.
4. Commitment to review and reform pesticide policies. 

F

Hope to see progress soon!
5. Commitment to environmental assessment of projects.

F

Again, review the Act!
6. Agenda 21 commitment to make trade and environment mutually supportive.

F

WTO continues to erode environmental standards.
7. Conservation of living marine resources.

D+

Some improvement.
8. Commitment to Indigenous Peoples.

D

Better! Let's see action now.
9. Incorporating environmental concerns.

F

Jean will have to repeat the course.
10. Forests.

D

Diversify your reading list to include biodiversity.

Return to Federal Government Table of Contents listing



G.H. Brundtland High School
M. Strong, Principal

SIXTH ANNUAL RIO REPORT CARD

Curriculum: Based on commitments made at the
United Nations Conference on Environment and
Development, June 1992

PROVINCE
SUBJECT

GRADE


COMMENTS
Newfoundland Biodiversity 

Climate Change

C- F

Brian needs to complete promised parks.
Nova Scotia Biodiversity 

Toxic Chemicals/Pollution 

Climate Change

C- F F

Congratulations on Jim CampbellÕs Barrens. 

Russell ? check your backyard.

Prince Edward Island Biodiversity 

Climate Change 

Pesticides/Toxics

D F F

Little Island - lots of problems.
New Brunswick Biodiversity 

Climate Change

D D

This mark needs work - set up parks.
Quebec Biodiversity 

Climate Change

F C

The best grade in the class on climate change.
Ontario Biodiversity 

Climate Change

F F

Appalling - Mike is sleeping through ecology class.
Manitoba Biodiversity 

Climate Change

D F

Gary - read your climate change homework.
Saskatchewan Biodiversity 

Climate Change

C+ F

Roy - best mark on biodiversity of your provincial colleagues.
Alberta Biodiversity 

Climate Change

F- F-

Ralph - class clown, not good enough. Pay attention to subjects. 
British Columbia Biodiversity 

Climate Change 

Bonus marks

D- F A+

Glen - ripping up your Forest Code is not acceptable! 

Excellent work on the MAI

Northwest Territories Biodiversity 

Climate Change

C C

Average - could improve.
Yukon Biodiversity 

Climate Change

C+ C

Best yet of marks anywhere.

Return to Provincial Governments Table of Contents listing



FEDERAL GOVERNMENT


1. Commitment to increase Overseas Development Assistance to 0.7% of GNP

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1993 Grade: F

1994 Grade: B

1995 Grade: F

1996 Grade: F

1997 Grade: F

1998 Grade: D

At the 1992 Earth Summit, the Canadian government reconfirmed its historic commitment to have our overseas development assistance (ODA) reach 0.7% of GNP. In the 1993 election, the Liberal "Red Book" committed to meet the 0.7% target. But in every year of the Chrétien government, the level of ODA has fallen. Thus, from an ODA level of 0.45% of GNP at Rio, this year ODA fell to 0.27% -- the lowest level since the 1960s.

Why then have we given the government an improved mark this year? A number of signs suggest that the government may be ready to start re-investing in our aid program. The government managed to free up $90 million in "new" monies for ODA due to pre-payments to international financial institutions, and a further $150 million was freed up by changing the way payments are made to international financial institutions.

Another reason for higher marks has been work within the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) in improving its policies for poverty reduction, basic human needs, gender equity and women in development. Information systems are now in place to account for CIDA expenditures against these policies and other programming priorities.

However, we will continue to see the percentage of ODA in relation to GNP decline unless the government sets out serious commitments and a timetable for rebuilding our ODA programme. It is not comforting to review the words of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, speaking exactly ten years ago in June 1988: "The gap between the rich and the poor nations of the world is widening. It is insane, if not criminal, for the poorest nations on Earth to pay more money in interest payments to wealthy creditors than they receive in aid from those same countries."

Do the Liberals really want to rehabilitate Brian Mulroney's reputation by being more hard-hearted, cold-blooded and uncaring than Conservatives in the face of crushing global poverty?


2. Commitment to Reduce Greenhouse Gases

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1993 Grade: D

1994 Grade: C+

1995 Grade: D+

1996 Grade: D-

1997 Grade: F

1998 Grade: Incomplete

For the last six years, the Rio Report Card process has responded to critics who wondered if we were not unfairly harsh in the grading process. In light of the Report of the Commissioner for the Environment and Sustainable Development ("the Environmental Auditor General"), Brian Emmett in late May, it is clear that any honest assessment of the federal government's record is devastating. Post-Kyoto, key opportunities for implementation have been lost. It is not possible to give a passing grade this year. Nor is it possible to give any grade. This year's performance rates an "incomplete."

But there are signs of hope. As feeble as the overall performance has been, it could easily have been worse.

In the last calendar year, the Chrétien government lurched from one pre-Kyoto event on the international stage to another, as though caught by surprise that climate change was on anyone's agenda. Prime Minister Chrétien has referred to the climate change file as "starting" with the Summit of the Eight in Denver in June 1997 -- an astonishing admission of the level of awareness of a global treaty signed and ratified by Canada in 1992. In Denver, Chrétien was clearly taken aback by strong criticism from Chirac of France and Blair of the U.K. for Canada's failure to deliver on the Rio targets. Straight from Denver, the Prime Minister flew to New York to deliver Canada's five years after Rio report to a Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly. Chrétien's speech was an admission of failure, justified only by noting that many others had failed as well. Again, Chrétien was stunned to find that big players on the global scene took the issue seriously. He telegraphed to the "system" that he did not want to be embarrassed again.

But despite Prime Ministerial direction that he not be embarrassed, the system did not get into gear. Throughout the summer, while in the U.S., the White House held high-level conferences on the issue to make up for their lost time in developing a position, Canada dithered. The new Minister of Environment Christine Stewart was not able or willing to be aggressive in developing a position. In the lead-up to Kyoto, it was unclear who was in charge. The new Minister of Natural Resources, Ralph Goodale, at least moved beyond the nay-saying role of his predecessor, Anne MacLellan. But in the absence of leadership, or of a strategy or of any coherent goal, the federal government sleep-walked toward a conference that had been under active negotiation for the previous five years.

Direction at last came in the form of a phone call from U.S. President Clinton to Jean Chrétien when the Prime Minister was in Russia. Hours before unveiling the U.S. opening negotiating position for Kyoto -- an unacceptable target of stabilizing at 1990 levels between 2008-2012 -- Clinton called Chrétien to ask for his help. At this point, in September 1997, Canada was the only G-7 country without an announced negotiating position. Reliably reported was that Clinton wanted Canada to commit to a reduction beyond mere stabilization. Clinton wanted Canada to help move Kyoto's negotiating process. In exchange, the U.S. President offered to support Canada's calls for "flexibility" -- measures that would allow Canada to claim credits for activities in developing countries, for emissions trading, and, potentially, for forests as "sinks."

Chrétien sent the message back to the system: "Beat Clinton." As a strategic analysis of what Canada should aim to accomplish to protect the global atmosphere and future generations from devastating climatic disruptions, this was a remarkably superficial approach -- but at least it gave the system some direction.

The federal and provincial ministers of energy and environment met in Regina in October to develop a consensus position. To its credit, the Government of Quebec pressed for more significant greenhouse gas reductions. Nevertheless, the Joint Ministers Meeting statement was issued as though all players were on board for stabilization only. In the following weeks, the federal government announced that Canada would commit to a 3% reduction below the 1990 target level.

In the days leading to Kyoto's opening session the federal government was in a state of disarray, scheduling and cancelling press announcements of our negotiating position into the eleventh hour. Provincial governments were clearly confused as to the nature of the federal provincial "consensus" (minus Quebec) that Canada would move to stabalization. At Kyoto itself, performance by Ralph Goodale surprised many with his increasing commitment and understanding of the issue. Canada's willingness to move in the context of our trading partners, particularly the U.S., to a minus 6% target was important. In exchange, the flexibility measures were estimated by Minister Stewart as amounting to about 3% of the overall goal; thus maintaining what had been floated as Canada's position at home.

Unquestionably, at Kyoto there were worse performers (Australia). But the days are long gone that any nation would look to Canada for leadership.

On return from Kyoto, the federal government has again missed important opportunities to meet our commitments. The federal budget contained only minor housekeeping monies to set up the Climate Change Secretariat. Sensible and cost effective measures such as a National Atmosphere Fund were by-passed. No fiscal message was delivered that Canada is more serious about Kyoto than it was about Rio. In fact, the establishment of sectoral Tables on eleven different issues, each to work over the next 18 months, provokes a strong sense of déjà -vu all over again. Worse yet, Canada appears more interested in loopholes, paying for carbon reductions elsewhere, rather than re-orient our economy to profit from the phase-out of fossil fuels.

The Auditor General for the Environment noted that there is still no clear sense of who is in charge. The apportionment of the target to various players, jurisdictions and sectors has still not taken place. The question in 1998 is not if we should, but how we should reduce greenhouse gasses by 6% below 1990 levels between 2008-2012. This action should be seen in the context of developing science and the very real possibility that -- well before 2008 -- the extent of required action will increase. Many nations are beginning to muse out loud that the political will is lacking to avoid a doubling of atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide. Modellers are beginning to analyze the nightmarish scenarios for a planet with a tripled carbon dioxide atmosphere.

Wasting 18 months in more process discussions is not only a delay in acting to protect the atmosphere, it will increase the economic and health costs to Canadians. At worst, it will condemn our children to an unlivable world. The atmosphere isn't playing politics. The planet's climate is signalling disasters from every corner of the globe. Wet ecosystems like South East Asian rainforests are not supposed to go up in flames. Neither are Alberta's forest supposed to be on fire in December. Our daily press is increasingly a barrage of unnatural "natural" disasters -- crippling heat waves in India, forest fires and ice storms in Canada, droughts in our prairies and torrential flooding from Mexico to Italy to California. While it is possible for all of these events to be within natural weather variability, the majority of the world's scientists do not think it is likely. Only the reckless would bet their lives on it. The current aberrations on weather around the world are consistent with the climate modelling of an increased carbon dioxide world.

The federal government's grade should be increased in recognition of two important things: 1) Canada did make a legally binding commitment in Kyoto, and, 2) it has signed that commitment.

But, as we have learned through the bitter legacy of Rio, the test is in the ratification and implementation. Mark 1998 "incomplete."


3. Commitment to Protect Biodiversity

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1993 Grade: A (for ratification); C (for implementation)

1994 Grade: D

1995 Grade: C

1996 Grade: D

1997 Grade: D-

1998 Grade: F

The propensity for Canada to enter into international agreements and then fail to implement them was highlighted in the recent report of the federal Commissioner for the Environment and Sustainable Development. In particular, Mr. Emmett detailed the federal government's failure to effectively implement the United Nations Convention for the Protection of Biological Diversity. The National Biodiversity Strategy, released by the government in April 1996, was identified by the Environmental Commissioner as Canada's "primary response" to the Convention. It has been stalled in its implementation. Thus far only two of eight federal biodiversity implementation plans have been developed. However, the Commissioner noted that if the other six plans follow the lead of the first two (agriculture and forestry) lacking time lines, resources to meet goals and expected results, then even a completed set of eight "will not constitute a sufficient federal implementation plan."

There is, according to the Environmental Commissioner, inadequate scientific capacity to even identify and properly study Canada's plant and animal species. Despite Canada's persistent claims of international leadership on the protection of biodiversity, six years after Rio, Canada still has no legislation to protect endangered species, and is worryingly behind its own schedule for completion of the national park system.


Endangered Species Legislation: D

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Last year, we gave the federal government an "F" for its erosion of inadequate draft legislation into unacceptable draft legislation. Bill C-65, which died on the Order Paper last year, was "endangered species protection legislation" in name only. The federal government, and particularly Environment Minister Christine Stewart, has an opportunity to improve the grade by re-working the legislation substantially before re-introduction expected late in the fall of 1998. Virtually all interested parties found the previous bill unacceptable. When industry and environmental groups both intensely dislike a government initiative, it does not mean the government has got it about right -- somewhere in the middle. In the case of the Canadian Endangered Species Protection Act, it meant government had failed to meet minimal expectations of any constituency. Listening to all stakeholders before re-introduction is essential. In an optimistic vein, the federal government grade rises to a "D" in hopes of a thoughtful process to new legislation.


Protected Areas: F

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The federal government's long-standing commitment to complete the national parks system before the year 2000 now has fewer than 18 months to be delivered. Like promises to reduce greenhouse gases, as the due date looms, excuses will have to be found for failure. No new national parks were created in the last year. The national parks system is currently only 62% complete. The marine protected areas systems is even farther from completion. The National Park System is based on protection through the identified National Park Regions. The Park Service aims to have one national park per national park region. Even with this goal, there is no requirement for the park to adequately protect the needs of the ecosystem.

Worse still, the existing national parks are facing a barrage of intrusive, ecologically damaging developments. Despite efforts which all environmental groups have commended from Heritage Minister Sheila Copps to restrain development within Banff, recent approvals for expansion of the Chateau Lake Louise development, coupled with increasing pressure for expansion in the Banff township are disturbing. Although Minister Cops committed to legislation to restrain development, none was tabled before the House rose for the summer.

However, it is not possible to present a passing grade due to the federal Cabinet's approval of destruction of fish habitat, clearing the way for open-pit coal mining adjacent to Jasper. It is a clear violation of the Biodiversity Convention to have a 23 kilometre-long, nine kilometre-wide swath of open-pit coal mines in an area so close to a National Park and World Heritage Site. The mines will affect the MacLeod and Cardinal Rivers and eight streams forming the headwaters of the continental divide between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans. In the environmental assessment hearings, Parks Canada officials testified that the mine would negatively impact the ecological integrity of Jasper National Park. Nevertheless, Fisheries Minister David Anderson and the Cabinet approved the mine.

The U.N. World Heritage Committee has expressed strong concerns about the approval of the Cheviot mine as Jasper is a World Heritage Site. The Committee has called on the federal government to abandon the Cheviot mine and seek alternative sites for mining in order to preserve the World Heritage Status of Jasper.

In light of the collapse of Asian markets for metallurgical coal, the alleged market for the project, the federal and provincial governments should develop an alternative economic development plan, ensuring the protection of the Cardinal River Valley.


4. Commitment to Review and Reform Pesticide Policies

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1993 Grade: F

1994 Grade: C

1995 Grade: D

1996 Grade: C-

1997 Grade: F

1998 Grade: F

Health Minister Allan Rock has been responsible for the regulation of pesticides in Canada for nearly a year, but has not yet met with any representatives of Canada's environmental community -- despite repeated requests. In a speech to the Canadian Federation of Agriculture in February 1998, Minister Rock boasted of a cordial "open door" relationship with stakeholders, including personal phone calls at home, yet ignores environmental, labour and health groups.

Minister Rock has created the Advisory Panel on Cost Recovery at the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) allowing the chemical manufacturers that profit from registered chemicals a direct role in influencing policy. Pesticide manufacturers have argued that "those who pay should have a say." Cost Recovery, however, only covers 45% of the PMRA's costs and the Canadian taxpayers pay the rest.

Lack of public transparency surrounding the PMRA's cost recovery process is matched only by the secrecy that shrouds the registration process and protects pesticide formulations.

The Canadian public is the biggest and most affected stakeholder when it comes to pesticides and must be given more influence in the regulation of pesticides.

No action has been taken to reform the Pest Control Products Act. The reform of pesticide legislation is another promise "missing in action" between Red Book 1 and Red Book 2. Red Book 2 does not even mention pesticides, much less reform of the Pest Control Products Act. The only promising inference can be drawn from the Red Book 2 comment that "we need to understand endocrine disrupters, for example, and how they affect the development and reproductive abilities of organisms."

Meanwhile, through the communiqué from the Denver G-8 Summit in June 1997, the federal government committed itself to explicitly consider the special needs of children in setting acceptable levels for environmental contaminants. Children are especially vulnerable to pesticides and are routinely exposed -- as was documented in the report "Children and Pesticides", published by the Campaign for Pesticide Reduction. No legislative response has been made to this commitment.

Allan Rock appears to believe that he can write his book report on the Pest Control Products Act by watching the industry video. It's time to give pesticide reform the attention it deserves.


5. Commitment to Environmental Assessment

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1993 Grade: F

1994 Grade: C

1995 Grade: B-

1996 Grade: D

1997 Grade: F

1998 Grade: F

The Report of the federal Commissioner for the Environment and Sustainable Development provides startling evidence that the federal government is thwarting pivotal legislation to ensure environmentally sound decision-making within the Government of Canada. Following a complete audit of 187 recent environmental screenings, the Commissioner concluded that the majority did not "meet the minimum criteria set out in the (Canadian Environmental Assessment) Agency's guide." The Commissioner found that assessments were artificially narrow, apparently to avoid federal-provincial conflict and that key departments such as Fisheries would avoid granting a permit, and allow the activity on a verbal basis, to avoid triggering a proper assessment. One recent example of such chicanery is the Caw Ridge Mine development in Alberta in which DFO officials apparently advised the proponent on how to destroy a fragile ecosystem, habitat to endangered species, without triggering DFO's responsibilities under CEAA.

Environmentalists across Canada are all too familiar with games such as assessing a bridge for its impact on fish habitat, without including an assessment of the road on either side. Narrow assessments thwart the Act's emphasis on cumulative effects. Moreover the Commissioner found that some assessments were done without officials even visiting the site, based on third hand reports prepared by others.

The Sierra Club case challenging the sale of reactors to China without an environmental assessment is still before the courts. However, the government has determined to follow the same pattern of providing loan guarantees in the amount of $1.5 billion in order to secure a reactor sale with Turkey. In leaked Cabinet documents, the Cabinet decided to pursue the Turkey sale, while examining ways to avoid environmental assessment again. This was even in the face of advice from the Department of Justice that the government's case is not strong and that Sierra Club may well be successful at Federal Court. Other court cases await hearings from coast to coast challenging the failure to apply CEAA.

The Federal Environmental Assessment Agency (CEEA) also received poor marks for its Sustainable Development Strategy (SDS) from the Environmental Auditor General, although, in fairness, it should be noted that CEAA was not legally required to prepare an SDS.


6. Agenda 21 Commitment to Make Trade and Environment Mutually Supportive

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1993 Grade: F

1994 Grade: F

1995 Grade: F-

1996 Grade: F

1997 Grade: F

1998 Grade: F

Increasingly Canada is taking its trade complaints to the World Trade Organization. The positions taken in World Trade Organization (WTO) tribunals are largely out of step with our Rio commitments and with national concerns.

For example, in making our case before the WTO against the European ban on the importations of hormone treated beef, Canada argued against the precautionary principle. Canada also argued that consumer resistance was not an appropriate consideration when considering adding genetically engineered substances to our food.

Canada argued in a similar vein at last June's meetings of the obscure Codex Alimentarius, a non-agency created by the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization of the United Nations to assist developing countries in setting food standards. Codex meetings are heavily dominated by transnational corporate interests like Coca-Cola, Cargill and Monsanto. The head of Monsanto's government relations department sat on the Canadian delegation in June 1997 when Canada voted that no further scientific or health research was required before setting a standard for bovine growth hormone (BGH) in milk. Even though BGH is not registered for use in Canada and Health Canada claims to be continuing to investigate its safety, at the Codex meeting Canada voted to set a standard that would put no limit on the amount of BGH in milk.

In early June 1998, Canada launched a complaint at the WTO against France. This time we are hoping to strike down the French ban on asbestos. Our determination to use the General Agreement on Tarrifs and Trade to force Canadian products of dubious merit with proven health risks is a national shame. But it is also a risk. Actions taken in Canada to protect the health and environment of Canadians can also be challenged in international fora. Canada's promotion of investment treaties, such as the Multilateral Agreement on Investment, demonstrates that risk. Canada is being sued by a U.S. corporation, Ethyl, as a result of an environmentally based decision to ban the toxic gasoline additive MMT. While Canada's trade interests may favour an attack on the French ban on asbestos, principles set in such cases can well be turned against Canada. Trade should not be used as a weapon against environment and health protection. Canada's role in doing just that is shameful.


7. Commitment to the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Living Marine Resources
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1993 Grade: B-

1994 Grade: F

1995 Grade: C

1996 Grade: F

1997 Grade: F

1998 Grade: D+

It is an enormous relief to see some area of federal performance improve. No teacher likes issuing a litany of failing grades.

The sole reason for the improved grade is the decision by Fisheries Minister David Anderson to protect coho stocks on the West Coast and Atlantic salmon stocks on the East Coast. The "zero quota" decision was long-overdue. It was particularly courageous in light of the inevitable indignation of B.C. fishers responding to Alaska's irresponsible action in allowing the fishing of coho salmon. Congratulations are also deserved for the decision to reject a proposed krill fishery in Scotia Fundy.

If the rest of the CanadaÕs fisheries had been managed to the same level of conservation principles as the coho, the grade this year might have approached an "A". Unfortunately, that is not the case. Increased quotas for northern cod are unwarranted and risky. The Scotia Fundy cod fishery is in trouble. DFO has yet to acknowledge problems in management practices. This failure is at the heart of why even a grade of "D+" is probably too generous. Closing fisheries in the interest of conservation is better than fishing out the last coho. But the reality is that management policies should ensure sustainable fisheries. We have still learned nothing from the collapse of the East Coast cod fishery. Sierra Club supports the efforts of Newfoundlanders to see financial compensation extended. These communities have been devastated by management decisions at the federal level. While many actors had a role in the collapse of the fishery, the major villains were draggers, corporate greed, government mismanagement and political interference in what little sound scientific advice was available.

Given DFO's appalling record of over-estimating cod stocks, the government's willingness to accept exaggerated estimates of seal populations and unsubstantiated allegations of sealsÕ impacts on commercial fisheries remains a cause of great concern. DFO has acknowledged omitting major sources of seal mortality from its estimates of sustainable hunt levels: in other words, the current commercial hunt, now by far the largest killing of marine mammals in the world, is almost certainly depleting seal populations. Clearly, we cannot view the current commercial seal hunt, heavily subsidized by tax dollars, as anything other than a scapegoat for past fishery disasters.


8. Commitments to Indigenous Peoples

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1993 Grade: D

1994 Grade: C+

1995 Grade: F

1996 Grade: F

1997 Grade: F

1998 Grade: D

At long last, the federal government has responded to the Royal Commission Report on Aboriginal Issues. Minister for Indian and Northern Affairs, Jane Stewart, made a formal apology to Canada's First Nations peoples. There was also a quasi-apology for abuse of native children in the residential school system with $350 million over five years for a "healing process." Overall, however, it is too early too tell whether government-First Nations relations will have really changed. The claims process appears to be moribund, the BC treaty process seems stalled, as does self-government across Canada.

Lastly, the absence of a federal presence in the conflict over First Nations logging in New Brunswick is strange. The situation is tense. Industrialized logging in New Brunswick has already decimated the province's forests. Looming wood shortages are made worse from the corporate viewpoint by any level of native logging. First Nations in New Brunswick have endured conditions of grinding poverty and social crisis. The hope of economic self-sufficiency through logging was dashed by the higher court. Both levels of government have an obligation to ensure the situation is resolved without violence, and, ideally, to use the opportunity of the crisis to re-assess what is a sustainable level of logging. The cut in New Brunswick should be reduced by at least 30%, but new jobs, ideally for an increased workforce of First Nations loggers should be trained in eco-forest methods, logging without large mechanized harvesters.


9. Incorporating Environmental Concerns into Every Aspect of Government Decision Making

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1993 Grade: --

1994 Grade: B+

1995 Grade: D

1996 Grade: D-

1997 Grade: D

1998 Grade: F

Last year, the federal government avoided a failing grade on the strength of the creation of an environmental Auditor General and on new hopes for Rio veteran Christine Stewart as Minister of the Environment. This year, Commissioner for the Environment Brian Emmett has shone a bright light on system-wide failures by the Chrétien government to meet its Rio Commitments. Commissioner Emmett found a pattern of leadership in negotiating international agreements with no political will for implementation. His review of the recently tabled Sustainable Development Strategies (SDS) of the federal government departments revealed a number of troubling, if predictable, flaws.

The SDS's overwhelmingly committed to the status quo, regurgitating existing practices without committing to any new goals. In fact, measurable goals and timelines were absent in most of the strategies.

Also, disappointing has been the performance of Environment Minister Christine Stewart. While any Minister of Environment would have an uphill battle in the current anti-environment climate of Ottawa decision-making, the Minister has not accomplished as much as predecessors Sheila Copps and Sergio Marchi. At least Copps and Marchi were able to stall the harmonization agreements with the provinces. Minister Stewart signed the Harmonization Agreement in St. John's Newfoundland early this year, despite the fact that the all-party Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development of the House of Commons had recommended against signing, and despite the fact that no official government response had been given to the Committee. This parliamentary slap in the face only accentuated the contempt with which the Chrétien government views environmental concerns.

The Report of the Environmental Commissioner confirmed a key finding of the Standing Committee -- namely that the rationale for down-loading environmental responsibilities to the provinces was mythological and not real. Industry groups and the provinces have rallied around the cry of "overlap and duplication" when both federal and provincial levels of government share aspects of environmental jurisdiction. Both the Standing Committee and the Environmental Auditor General could not find evidence of overlap and duplication. In the Auditor General's report the finding was specifically in relation to environmental assessment. The Commissioner's staff looked in detail at 187 assessments. Of that number 25 involved provincial environmental assessments. After a thorough review, the Commissioner noted "There was more evidence of federal-provincial co-operation than duplication of effort."

Budget cuts continue to threaten the viability of Environment Canada. Ten years ago the department's budget was over $800 million, it was the seventh largest department in government in terms of personnel and the fourteenth largest in terms of budget. Today it is the smallest. By 1996-97, the budget was down to $621.3 million, reflecting the transfer of Parks Canada to Heritage and cuts to what remained of the department. This year (1998-99), the budget has plummeted to $551 million. Of that nearly $200 million is for weather forecasting. That means that only $358 million is available for environmental protection activities, enforcing toxics legislation, the Canadian Wildlife Service -- in short all federal functions in conservation, protection and enforcement. The Gallon Environment Letter compared the level of funding of the U.S. E.P.A. with Environment Canada. When adjusted to reflect proportionally Canada's population, Canada spends less than half what the U.S. spends for environmental protection.

The decision of the federal Cabinet to approve open-pit coal mining within a few kilometres of Jasper National Park also highlights the extent to which it is now possible to trash the environment without apology or pretence.


10. Forests

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1994 Grade: A

1995 Grade: C+

1996 Grade: C-

1997 Grade: D

1998 Grade: D

International negotiations continue to move glacially toward Canada's goal of a Forest Convention. As noted in previous Rio Report Cards, Canada has identified a Forest Convention as an important aspect of defending our trade interests in forest products. The single-minded focus of our global forest policy to achieve the Forest Convention has led to Canadian-made obstacles to other worthy efforts. At the Jakarta second Conference of the Parties (COP2) of the Biodiversity Convention, Canada supported a report to the Forest Intergovernmental process identifying protection of primary old growth forests, tropical and temperate as a priority area for action. Since then, Canada has steadily opposed the effective use of the Biodiversity Convention, blocking any action at COP4 on a forest action plan. Canada also under-mined efforts at the Summit of the Eight toward a G-8 Forest Action Plan.

Meanwhile, at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, Canada pushed successfully for the accelerated trade in forest products in the APEC nations through acceptance of a year 2000 target date for the removal of all trade barriers to forest products. The world's forests are disappearing at an accelerating rate everywhere. Canada is no longer arguing for sustainability -- merely using the term as a shield to oppose European boycott action against clear-cut Canadian old growth.


Conclusion

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With this sixth set of marks for performance by the federal government in meeting its Rio targets it is clear that environmental issues have never been at such a low point on the political agenda.

Across the country, Canadians continue to be exposed to unacceptable health and environmental risks. For some, such as residents of Sydney, Nova Scotia or Deline in the North West Territories, the exposures are a matter of life and death. In Deline, 1.7 million tons of radioactive tailings were dumped into their lake, while Inuit men were used like coolies to carry sacks of uranium ore on their backs. In Sydney, thousands of residents are adjacent to the largest toxic waste site anywhere in Canada or the United States. In the Muggah Creek Estuary alone there are 700,000 tons of PAH and PCB contaminated sludge. The entire watershed of several hundred acres is contaminated, posing an urgent environmental and health concern.

Levels of environmental protection in Canada are still lacking at a very basic level. Raw sewage is still dumped into harbours, from Sydney on the East Coast to Victoria on the West. While Canadians are innately proud of our environmental consciousness, we are often blissfully unaware that Canadian environmental standards -- and our capacity to study and understand our environment -- are being unravelled.

However, a certain momentum for change has developed in the last year. Increasing media awareness of the Kyoto conference and Canada's failure to meet its greenhouse gas targets has put the issue back into the public eye. The repeated attacks on the government's record from the Standing Committee on the Environment of the House of Commons and the recent report of the Commissioner for the Environment and Sustainable Development may mark the wake-up call the Chrétien government needs on its environmental record. Clearly, voices from the environment community are ignored by this government. Insiders candidly admit that warnings of environmental group opposition to a particular initiative appear to result in fast-track approval. Promising signs that this antipathy to the environmental agenda should soon shift come from polling advice to the Liberals at their Policy Convention of vulnerability on the environment, and more importantly, from recent comments from Finance Minister Paul Martin that the government should increase its efforts on the environment file.

The Liberal government had better hurry, or it will be remembered as the government that left a more devastating trail of wreckage in environmental damage than even the reign of U.S. anti-green Secretary Jim Watt.




PROVINCIAL GRADES

Newfoundland

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Biodiversity:

(not graded in 1993 or 1994)

1995 Grade: D-

1996 Grade: F

1997 Grade: D

1998 Grade: C-

The Newfoundland government has brought up its grade for the second year in a row thanks to the promise of its proposed endangered species legislation. Newfoundland also created a new ecological reserve and made progress toward designation of the Torngat Mountains in Labrador as a national park. Marks would be higher if the government had approved its protected areas systems plan and had finalized the Little Grand Lake ecological reserve.

We will be watching closely to see if the proposed endangered species legislation is as strong when it reaches the House of Assembly as it was in its discussion paper phase.

Meanwhile, Newfoundland has lost points due to its decision to approve the use of the organophosphate insecticide Dylox against the balsam saw-fly. This is an extremely toxic substance with reports in the medical literature of association with birth defects. Aerial spraying over cottages in Newfoundland will likely have adverse effects on fish and wildlife.

Newfoundland - Climate Change:

1993:F

1994:F

1995:F

1996:D-

1997:D

1998:F

The Newfoundland government has grabbed the Kyoto bit between its teeth and has dashed madly off in the wrong direction. Rather than seize on a world-renowned potential for Newfoundland in wind energy, the government has joined with Quebec to lobby for $2 billion in federal funds to develop the Lower Churchill River. The Newfoundland government is claiming that greenhouse gas reductions are achievable through running an underwater electricity cable from the Lower Churchill to electricity markets in Ontario and Quebec. Two billion invested in renewables would be far more effective at reducing greenhouse gases, without compromising the interests of the Innu Nation and without substantial environmental damage.

Nova Scotia

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Biodiversity:

not graded in 1993

1994 Grade: F

1995 Grade: D

1996 Grade: B-

1997 Grade: F

1998 Grade: C-

Back from failure, the Nova Scotia government, under new Premier Russell MacLellan, reversed the decision to de-list a protected area adjacent to the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, the Jim CampbellÕs Barren. Significantly, given the precarious position of the Liberal government in minority, both the NDP and the Progressive Conservatives had strongly favoured restoring the Barrens to protected area status.

The Jim Campbell's Barren had been selected as one of the most significant areas for protection. The decision became a source of national outrage, as well as attracting the largest coalition of Nova Scotia environmental groups ever to unite around one issue. Complicating the issue for the government were the revelations that there was an unusually high level of activity in shares of stock in Regal Goldfields Ltd., the major beneficiary of the decision to open the Barrens to mineral exploration and mining. Between the time the Cabinet decision was made and when it was publicly announced, there was unprecedented share activity. This is currently the subject of an Ontario Securities Commission review.

Restoring the Jim Campbell's Barren to protected area status was an important and welcome step. But further mineral exploration through the Cape Breton Highlands is a source of concern.

Premier MacLellan and his Environment Minister Don Downe, who also carries the Finance portfolio, have committed to significant new wilderness legislation in this session of the provincial legislature. The province has also developed some quite progressive draft legislation to protect endangered species. Action to complete these new laws will result in high marks next year.

Meanwhile, Nova Scotia's forests are being exposed to an unprecedented rate of clear-cutting. What was once confined to the minority land ownership areas of Crown and large industrial freehold, economic pressures are leading to small private holdings being butchered across the province. One lightning rod for public concern has been the plight of the Nova Nada Carmelite Order. This Roman Catholic retreat has existed in silence in the remote wilderness of Yarmouth County for over 26 years. Originally the nuns and monks were bordered by parts of the Tobeatic Protected area and by woodlands controlled by Bowater Mersey of Liverpool. In deference to the religious retreat's requirement for peace and quiet, the Bowaters company kept logging well away. Then last year Irving purchased land, both from Bowaters and from what had been within the Tobeatic wilderness protected area. Irving had no compunction about logging near the religious retreat. Using mechanized clear-cutting equipment, Irving started logging 24-hours a day. The nuns and monks have appealed for public support as Irving is unwilling to back off their area. Meanwhile Irving supporters have engaged in what Nova NadaÕs Mother Superior has called "monk-bashing," suggesting they are some sort of fringe lifestyle and may not even be Catholics!

But the Nova Nada issue symbolizes a far more widespread problem in Nova Scotia. As mechanized clear-cutting increases, many Nova Scotians find fundamental values compromised. Sources of drinking water have been lost through clear-cutting. Vistas and favourite fishing areas have been destroyed. And because logging on private land is not regulated at all, other landowners affected by clear-cuts are without recourse, unless they are prepared to sue.

The Nova Scotia government has thus far failed to take action to resolve the land use conflict between Nova Nada and the Irvings. It has also ignored the growing forest crisis, although new efforts are said to be in the works to deal with the increased rate of logging on private lands.

Meanwhile, the Nova Scotia government loses marks for approval of aerial spraying of BTk insecticide. A recent ruling in British Columbia by that province's environmental appeals board rejected aerial spraying of BTk, citing health impacts on vulnerable groups. The N.S. government is ignoring health and environmental concerns and proceeding with a spray program.

Nova Scotia - Toxic Chemicals/ Pollution:

1994 Grade:F

1995 Grade:-

1996 Grade: F

1997 Grade: C

1998 Grade: F

Unfortunately, in the last year, rather than make progress in cleaning up Canada's largest toxic waste site in Sydney's Muggah Creek Watershed, the Nova Scotia government has made the situation worse. The province and municipal government of Sydney are now burning all of the province's biomedical waste in Sydney's municipal incinerator. Incomplete burning has been reported and down-wind neighbours are complaining of nosebleeds and headaches.

The Tar Ponds contain 700,000 tons of toxic sludge, with a significant amount of PAH contamination, plus at least 45,000 tons of PCBs. Beyond the contaminated estuary lie hundreds of acres of heavily contaminated industrial sites in the old coke ovens and steel mill. The municipal landfill has also had toxic contamination. All of these hazardous areas are in and among Sydney neighbourhoods, such as Ashby, Whitney Pier, and abutting the downtown. The Sydney area has a cancer rate twice the national average.

The great hopes for the community and government Joint Action Group (JAG), now approaching its second anniversary, have dimmed as the JAG has bogged down in its own bureaucracy. The stalling of JAG is convenient for all levels of government that wish to postpone the day of reckoning when funds must be found to clean up and remediate the site. Meanwhile, toxic chemicals continue to seep into the harbour, enter the groundwater, volatize airborne into the neighbourhoods, unconfined and uncontrolled. Recent removals of surface coke and coal residue for sale to generate revenue for the Phase 1 clean-up at the coke ovens site has resulted in increased illness in homes adjacent to the site. The need to move people and relocate homes to non-toxic areas is urgent. People keep dying and the clean-up is no closer now than its was when initially approved by federal and provincial governments in 1986.

Nova Scotia - Climate Change:

1993 Grade:n/a

1994 Grade:F

1995 Grade:D+

1996 Grade: D-

1997 Grade:D+

1998 Grade:F

Nova Scotia Power Corp has been a reluctant player in efforts to improve air quality by reducing mercury emissions from coal-fired plants. Nova Scotia dragged its heels at the Conference of New England governors and Maritime premiers in accepting tough standards for mercury. Thanks to Nova Scotia, the strong environmental commitment wanted by the New England Governors was compromised and watered down. Whereas the New England governors wanted a ten year virtual elimination target for airborne mercury, the most Nova Scotia would agree to was a 50% regional reduction goal for mercury, to be reached within five years. Such reluctance is ironic given that Nova Scotia's environment is being particularly hard hit by mercury emissions from the U.S. and the Ohio River Valley. Loons in Kejimkujik National Park have registered the highest level of mercury contamination ever recorded in wildlife. Mercury levels in the loons are high enough to interfere with reproduction. While mercury pollution does not contribute to climate change, it is Nova ScotiaÕs addiction to fossil fuels that worsens both problems.

Nova Scotia's response to climate change is hampered by an unwillingness to face the reality that coal mining in Cape Breton is not viable. Given that relatively few people in Canada are still employed in coal mining, an economic readjustment, retraining and employment programs must be developed ASAP. Ideally, Cape Breton would become a demonstration project for the transition from carbon-based fuels to renewables. Manufacturing and running solar and wind-powered technologies would be ideal.

Nova Scotia's energy future is being pitched as offshore oil and gas. While natural gas is a valuable transition fuel as we decrease dependency on coal and oil, it is not a long-term solution. It also brings other environmental problems. Sable Island production, operated by Shell and Mobil, will increase the province's greenhouse gas emissions at the point of production. In addition, operations off Sable Island plan to legally dump oil covered drill cuttings directly into the ocean. In pursuing offshore gas, energy efficiency and conservation options were never fully explored.

Prince Edward Island

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Biodiversity:

not graded in 1993, 1994

1995 Grade: B-

1996 Grade: C

1997 Grade: C

1998 Grade: D

Although Prince Edward Island protected ten new areas, totalling 413 hectares, none of the areas are of a sufficient size to constitute meaningful protection. The set-aside of 413 hectares was completely off-set by the give-away of approximately 600 hectares of Crown land -- comprising a mix of forests and meadow -- to a golf course developer. Despite, the province's promise of a new system of protected forest areas, the so-called "protected areas" would actually be a "working forest" with clearcutting, herbiciding and plantations. The province is ignoring the urgent need to develop large connected blocks of Acadian forest. Moreover, other than areas of sand dunes and salt water ponds, the province is far behind the rest of the country in completing a network of protected areas. While other provinces are committed to the Endangered Spaces target of 12% protection of representative ecosystems, PEI is only committed to a 7% solution. Currently, only 2.3% of the province has been protected.

Unfortunately, while Prince Edward Island has protected new areas, it has been slow to develop management plans. The government rejected the recommendations of its Roundtable, announcing it would designate first and do management plans later. Meanwhile, clearcutting still continues, with increased reliance on mechanized harvesters. The forest management policies are not protecting biological diversity, with plantings in only two species -- 5% white pine among 95% black spruce. Such species composition constitutes a massive conversion from the diverse original Acadian forest mix. As well, PEI continues to allow excessive pesticide use, contaminating the environment and the groundwater.

Despite widespread public support for buffer zones to protect streams from destructive agricultural practices, the government has not acted. The need for buffer zone legislation is urgent, as potato growers plough right up to the water's edge and contaminate streams with pesticides. Riparian zone protection is urgent and should help in fighting a serious soil erosion problem on the Island. Industrial agriculture practices have significant impacts on biodiversity and are intensifying. Increased hog production is a threat and a number of affected communities are opposing hog farm development. To top it off, the province has given Second Reading to a new "Right to Farm Act" which will prevent neighbouring land owners from seeking damages if they are negatively impacted by agricultural practices.

Prince Edward Island - Climate Change:

1993:n/a

1994:C

1995:C-

1996:D

1997:D

1998:F

The Province has done nothing in this area -- no energy reduction programs, no energy efficiency efforts. It has been treated as a non-issue. The province's homeowners are dependent on oil for home heating, with electrical power. There is no form of public transportation on the Island. The only mass-transit has been the ferry system between the Island and the mainland. With the advent of Confederation Bridge, car travel has increased. Although the province is an ideal location for wind power and was an early pioneer in wind development in the 1970s, the province is dropping the renewable ball. The Atlantic Wind Test site, jointly funded by the federal and provincial government, is struggling along on 1990 funding levels. This site is one of only two test sites in Canada (the other being in Alberta).

Prince Edward Island - Pesticides/Toxics:

not graded in previous years

1998: F

The PEI government has not previously been graded for its management of pesticides, other than for implications for biodiversity, but use of agricultural pesticides is soaring. In the last fourteen years, sales of agricultural pesticides have increased 700%! The three most used pesticides are classed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as "probable human carcinogens."

One hundred per cent of Prince Edward Island residents rely on groundwater for their drinking water supplies. There has been inadequate testing of ground water for potential contamination by pesticides. The Sierra Club Eastern Canada Chapter will be conducting a groundwater testing and monitoring project. Exposure to Islanders to toxic chemicals is a serious concern.

New Brunswick

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Biodiversity:

1993 Grade: F

1994 Grade: C

1995 Grade: F

1996 Grade: D

1997 Grade: F

1998 Grade: D

New Brunswick has not created any new protected areas this year, nor has it completed its protected areas strategy. However, the province passed comprehensive conservation easement legislation to improve ecological protection on private lands. The act allows land owners to donate or sell an easement on their land to land trust organizations, ensuring their stewardship in perpetuity whether for wildlands preservation or the ecologically sustainable management of woodlands.

The proposed sites for protection, developed in a protected areas strategy consultation, were unambitious and few in number. Missing was the important opportunity to protect wilderness in the Appalachians, notably in the Naliaisk and Serpentine Mountains. But opportunities to create viable wilderness protection in this last large area of New Brunswick old growth forest are disappearing. Logging activity is concentrating in the area south of the Naliaisk and Serpentine Summits peaks, threatening them with ecological island status. Substantial wildlife corridors are required from the Naliaisk, Serpentine and Dasher Mountains south to the proposed Logan Lake Conservation Area and north to the Mount Carleton Provincial Park.

Meanwhile, the tensions between First Nations loggers and the government and industry have not been addressed from the point of view of long term sustainability. New Brunswick's forests are heavily over cut. The interim agreements being negotiated by the provincial government with First Nations over logging rights are extending authority to native loggers to cut in designated areas of Crown Land without extending the authority to manage them for the long-term. Instead this remains the responsibility of industrial licensees whose harvesting and silvicultural activities are precipitating a dramatic decline in forest biodiversity. While native communities such as the Tobique Maliseet First Nation are committed to carrying out low impact harvesting practices, the benefits this should have for forest biodiversity could be lost without the ability to influence what happens after logging. (see discussion in federal DIAND grade section)

New Brunswick's forests are rapidly being converted to plantations or dramatically simplified as a result of inappropriate silvicultural practices and short rotations. Half a million acres of Crown land has already been converted from mixed wood Acadian forest to black spruce or jack pine. Each year 30% of what is cut from Crown lands is converted to plantations. Tree species such as red spruce, sugar maple, hemlock, cedar, beech, ironwood and ash are disappearing, while more boreal species such as balsam fir, poplar, and white birch have been increasing in both abundance and distribution. Such species conversion has serious implications for biodiversity.

The province deserves credit for the experimental opening of the gates of the Petitcodiac River causeway between Moncton and Riverview in an effort to determine the feasibility of restoring the ecological health of New Brunswick's third largest river system and its once productive estuary. The action was taken despite last minute court action to block this long-overdue experiment by property owners bordering the headpond the causeway created in 1968.

The long-awaited legislation to implement the province's progressive coastal lands policy remains mired in interdepartmental squabbling. The policy seeks to protect coastal habitats along the entire length of N.B.'s 2,400 kilometre coastline from development.

New Brunswick - Climate Change: 


1993 Grade:n/a

1994 Grade:C

1995 Grade:C+

1996 Grade:D+

1997 Grade:C-

1998 Grade:D

The province avoided a failing grade this year through implementation of an energy efficiency policy for government buildings. However, it has a long way to go before being able to boast of any real plan to meet greenhouse gas reduction targets.

Quebec

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Biodiversity:

1993 (not graded)

1994 Grade: D

1995 Grade: C+

1996 Grade: C+

1997 Grade: D-

1998 Grade: F

Quebec's network of environmental groups (Reseau quebecois des groupes ecologistes) prepared their own report card this year. In most of the areas graded related to biodiversity, the Bouchard government received a failing grade. Examples of government policy that did not meet minimum standards included the failure to limit expansion in hog farming, failure to protect fresh water and water courses, increased pressures on the province's forests and expanded logging into the north. In addition the province has been one of the poorest performers in the country in completing its network of protected areas. As noted by World Wildlife Fund, no large terrestrial areas have been protected in more than a decade. Moreover, there is no action plan to reach the protected areas target for the year 2000.

The only bright spot was the final legal protection of the Saguenay-St.Lawrence Marine Park, after years of negotiation through both federal and Quebec legislation.

Quebec - Climate Change:

1993 Grade:N/A

1994 Grade:D

1995 Grade:C+

1996 Grade: D+

1997 Grade:D-

1998 Grade:C

Quebec receives a fairly high mark on the climate change file on the strength of its performance in the preparations for Kyoto and at the Kyoto negotiations. While it is undoubtedly true that Quebec's dependence on large scale hydro gives it a natural advantage in its energy mix as Canada confronts its Kyoto commitments, it is also true that Quebec politicians appear to have a clearer grasp on the science and the reasons for action. Could this be because Canada's initial targets for greenhouse gas reductions were set by then federal Environment Minister Lucien Bouchard?

It appeared that he was recalling the climate change science when Premier Bouchard commented during the crippling ice storm that Quebecers could no longer expect extreme weather events, such as the devastating ice storm, only rarely. Premier Bouchard referred to the fact that we were now in a time of "mutations in the weather."

Ontario

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Biodiversity:

not graded in 1993, 1994

1995 Grade: C+

1996 Grade: F

1997 Grade: F

1998 Grade: F

Nothing in the last year has improved the record or the grade of the anti-environment government of Premier Mike Harris. According to the Canadian Environmental Law Association:

"Since taking office in June of 1995, Ontario's Tory government has racked up an impressive list of actions to dismantle the environment safety net. Moving very quickly and with very little consultation, the government has dismantled 30 years worth of safeguards to protect the environment and conserve natural resources."

By the end of fiscal 1997-98, the Harris government had cut the Environment Ministry by over 36% and the Ministry of Natural Resources by 40%. In total, cuts to both key departments come to well over half a billion dollars.

Decision-making has tended to treat the environment with contempt. For example, logging in the Owain Lake area of Temagami ultimately was ruled to have violated the Ontario Crown Forest Sustainability Act. The government knew that the courts had accepted that there was a serious issue to be heard, prior to when the logging began. Therefore, it amounts to outrageous conduct for the government to have allowed irrevocable damage to the few last remaining old growth red and white pine forests of the area.

The government did not create any new protected areas this year. Ontario is currently nearing the end of a lightning speed consultation period for land use decisions on nearly one half of the province's land mass. The Lands for Life process will result in recommendations to Minister of Natural Resources John Snobelen as to what areas should be set aside in new parks and what areas should be designated for tourism. The remainder will be turned over to mining and logging companies, operating under a self-policing regime. Thus far, logging and mining efforts appear to be dominating the process. Many of the logging companies have been arguing against any further protection, with the Buchanan group of forest companies actually making a case to government against any new parks, and for the opening of existing parks to logging!

Ontario - Climate Change:

1993 Grade:D

1994 Grade:C

1995 Grade:C+

1996 Grade: F

1997 Grade:F

1998 Grade: F

Ontario has been a non-player on the climate change issue. Its absence has been a major obstacle to progress on federal-provincial action. Ontario has not moved toward meeting Kyoto commitments, and has also lagged on delivering programs for cleaner air such as "Drive Clean Program." Cuts to public transportation also exacerbate both poor air quality and increased greenhouse gases.

Ontario has also been responsible for sabotaging the acid rain emissions reduction strategy. For three years, a multi-stakeholder group, including industry, environmental groups, and federal and provincial governments, had met to develop a consensus on the latest science and appropriate action. Everyone involved had agreed that the latest science required substantially more reductions in emissions if critical ecosystems -- forests, rivers and lakes -- were to be protected against acidification. Ontario alone has refused to move forward with its emissions reduction strategy.

Key to the fate of air quality, acidifying lakes and rivers, and a destabilized climate will be Ontario's approach to restructuring Ontario Hydro. Creative approaches to Ontario Hydro legislation could serve as a model for the world in how to innovate and save energy through district energy, energy efficiency, co-generation and renewables. Ontario has a chance to use market forces and a demand side energy management strategy to make real progress. Don't hold your breath...unless you're waiting for cleaner air.

Manitoba

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Biodiversity:

1993 Grade: F

1994 Grade: F

1995 Grade: F

1996 Grade: F

1997 Grade: C+

1998 Grade: D

Manitoba's brief rise to acceptable grades is at risk of sliding backwards to dismal failure. No new protected areas were created this year. The proposal for a National Lowlands Park has stalled. The public consultation report has not been released. Existing parks suffered another blow, and the public did not even know. Without any consultation, when the government brought in the Parks System Plan, in early 1997, it simultaneously cancelled all of the parks management plans! These plans had been developed after much public consultation. No one in the conservation community had any notion that the management plans no longer existed until development which had been barred by the plans became actively considered once again.

Logging continues to compromise protected areas throughout Manitoba. As noted in previous report cards, Louisiana Pacific's logging license includes the Duck Mountain Provincial Park and allows Louisiana Pacific to log right up to the border of Riding Mountain National Park. Now, Tolko, having taken over the former Repap operations, is pushing for an expanded road network and an increased rate of cutting. Particularly worrying is the plan to put in an all-weather road through the Chitek Lake area. The Chitek Lake area is one of rare biological diversity, with five free-ranging ungulate species -- woodland caribou, elk, deer, moose and wood bison. Woodland caribou has been recommended for endangered species classification in Manitoba. There are fewer than 2500 animals remaining in fourteen herds. Increases in industrial logging activity threaten the woodland caribou which is dependent on old growth boreal forest. The proposed road would splice through the proposed national park. Manitoba should listen to environmental groups and First Nations and keep the all-weather road out of the area.

The Tolko forest management area includes several provincial parks, including Grass River Park, which has less than 2% of its area protected. As well, most of the area under consideration for the Lowlands National Park is within the Forest Management Area and will be compromised by logging around its borders. The Forest management area is twice the size of the province of Nova Scotia.

Recently, it was revealed that the Pine Falls Paper Company, now owned by Tembec, built more than twenty bridges without obtaining permits under either the Navigable Waters or Fisheries Act! The government response is to issue and back-date the permits. Overall, logging companies plan to double the road network. One of the Pine Falls Paper Company bridges over the Manitgotagan River, inside Nopoming Provincial Park, has been particularly controversial. The Manitgotagan River had been a highly prized wilderness river, with many First Nations cultural sites along it.

Another area threatened by logging road construction is the east side of Lake Winnipeg, where the new mill owner, Tembec, wants to build an all weather road up the entire side of the lake. Meanwhile, as noted in the environmental assessment portion of the Environmental Auditor General, when bridges actually get assessed, the impact of the roads on either side are omitted from the impact review.

A recent Federal Court challenge has been laid by the Manitoba Future Forest Alliance, protesting the failure to perform an environmental assessment on the cumulative impacts of increased logging within the same ecosystem, on both sides of the Manitoba/Saskatchewan border.

Endangered species continue to be inadequately protected in Manitoba -- despite the fact that Manitoba is one of four provinces that actually has an endangered species act. In addition to the plight of the woodland caribou, discussed above, the lake sturgeon has also been recommended for threatened status, with no action.

The needs of First Nations are routinely ignored in Manitoba's forest allocations. First Nations land selection options are not clearly identified in company logging plans. Fibre access and cutting plans take precedence over First Nations' land selection to meet treaty entitlements.

Meanwhile, new environmental challenges are looming for Manitoba. As in Quebec, environmental groups are increasingly concerned about the enormous expansion in hog farms. Industrial hog operations can be extremely polluting and energy intensive. The projected capacity is for 18,000 hogs/day! New agricultural activities are also problematic. A mega-potato processing plant, operated by McCains's, will push an area of mixed grass/short grass prairie into production. The area's sandy, marginal soils will require large inputs of fertilizers and pesticides, as well as massive irrigation, threatening groundwater supplies. Huge subsidies are being used to attract investment in mining exploration and development. Many areas in Manitoba's provincial parks are open to mining development. Canmine recently submitted an application to expend operations in Nopoming Provincial Park to process 1,365 tons/day of nickel and copper.

Manitoba - Climate Change:

1993 Grade:n/a

1994 Grade:F

1995 Grade:D+

1996 Grade: F

1997 Grade:F

1998 Grade:F

Manitoba has no strategy to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. As recently as May 6, 1998, Environment Minister James McCrae said, "our own emissions are still projected to increase by about 10% by 2010."

Manitoba apparently thinks it has no responsibility to reduce its emissions because of its dependence on hydroelectric energy. But not only are Manitoba's smelters contributing to climate change, they have also caused air quality problems. In 1997, Flin Flon received some 321 air quality warnings.

The escalating destruction of the boreal forest has clear implications for climate change, continuing the reversal of Canada's forest from a net sink for carbon to a net source.

Despite the object lesson in extreme weather events, represented by the Red River Flood, and the superb example of a far-sighted insurance policy in former Premier Duff Roblin's famous diversion, Manitoba still hasn't put two and two together. If we don't reduce greenhouse gases quickly, we will experience more frequent and more severe extreme weather events. If we want an insurance policy, we have to buy it before we've suffered the damage.

Saskatchewan

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Biodiversity:

1993 Grade: F

1994 Grade: F

1995 Grade: D

1996 Grade: D

1997 Grade: F

1998 Grade: C+

Saskatchewan brought up its grade substantially this year, entirely due to action on the protected areas file. Over 250,000 hectares within 31 new protected areas of boreal forest, as well as a number of special site designations in the south were created this year.

Against successes in protected areas are failures in forest policy. The new Forest Legislation remained a disappointment, leaving increased stumpage fees to be negotiated over a longer time frame. Increased logging pressures, coupled with climate change and increased loss of forest to fire, threaten the biodiversity of Saskatchewan's forests.

Saskatchewan - Climate Change:

1993 Grade:F

1994 Grade:F

1995 Grade:D-

1996 Grade:F

1997 Grade:D-

1998 Grade:F

Saskatchewan has failed to even begin to address the climate change issue. Coal-dependent for generation of electricity, the province has yet to seriously consider options for greenhouse gas reduction. Its Environment Minister did not even attend the Joint Ministers Meeting and has stated publicly that the province will not be able to achieve the 6% reduction Kyoto target.

Meanwhile, the province's greenhouse gas emissions are going through the roof. Between 1990 and 1996, GHG emissions rose by 35%! Based on government estimates, energy demand in Saskatchewan will continue to rise, leading to increases in GHG emissions by as much as 50% higher than 1990 levels by 2010.

The government has some modest energy conservation programs in place, but as long as most of the province's electricity is coal-generated and the provinces ignores the need for action, Roy Rominow may be even less helpful on this file than Ralph Klein.

Alberta

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Biodiversity:

1993 Grade: B

1994 Grade: B

1995 Grade: F

1996 Grade: D

1997 Grade: F

1998 Grade: F-

Cheviot Mine. The Whaleback. Caw Ridge. Alberta's record this year is a litany of environmental abuse. The approval of the Cheviot Mine, allowing 23 kilometres of open-pit coal mining less than a mile from Jasper National Park is an outrage, for which the federal government bears some large measure of responsibility. Following approval of the destruction of eight rivers within the Cardinal River Valley, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature which designates World Heritage Sites, of which Jasper is one, have asked the government to hold off development and reconsider its decision. No discussion has yet occurred.

On the Whaleback, the Special Places 2000 proposal calls for oil and gas development within the area requiring protection. The Cabinet has agreed that resource extraction can take place within the Whaleback.

Caw Ridge is the latest outrage from Alberta with the collusion of the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO). The first phase of mining at Caw Ridge was approved without either a federal or provincial review. The company picked a pit upstream from an existing mine and, on the advice of DFO, called it an extension to avoid triggering environmental assessment. Caw Ridge, an alpine landscape on a ridge, is home to an amazing array of threatened species -- big horn sheep, mountain goats, and mountain caribou. Without any requirement for federal review, the province's environmental board has decided that the Alberta Wilderness Association has no standing to ask for a review! Mining has started without any review.

An area that even the Alberta government had earlier identified for protection, called Lakelands, is now being opened up for logging. This, even though the Special Places 2000 local committee's advice was for no logging.

Alberta is also pushing for further development within the Jasper and Banff national parks, with the latest concern being expanded hotel facilities at Lake Louise. The province has made no progress toward endangered species legislation, nor has it created any new protected areas.

If we could mark lower than F-, we would.

Alberta - Climate Change:

1993 Grade:n/a

1994 Grade:D

1995 Grade: F

1996 Grade:F-

1997 Grade:F

1998 Grade:F-

No province is more engaged in the climate change issue than Alberta. Unfortunately, Alberta continues to play the role of spoiler, complaining at every turn that climate change is not real, and that Alberta will not play in the emissions reduction effort. Albertan lobbying prior to Kyoto sought no action.

Instead of seeing the upcoming 18-month consultation as a means to determine how Canada will achieve the Kyoto target, Alberta views the process as a means to determine whether or not Kyoto should be ratified. This clearly indicates that the provincial government is in denial about the scientific consensus for immediate action.

British Columbia

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Biodiversity:

not graded in 1993

1994 Grade: C-

1995 Grade: C+

1996 Grade: B-

1997 Grade: D-

1998 Grade: D-

British Columbia with Glen Clark at the helm continues to chart a course to unravel the progress made by the previous NDP government. Changes to the Forest Practices Code, 550 specific changes, will reduce the Code's ability to protect biodiversity. In the words of the province's own forest watchdog, Chair of the Forest Practices Board Keith Moore, "these changes will likely lead to a reduction in environmental standards." The Clark government has folded in the face of an industry lobbying effort targeting the Code. The result will be increased clear-cut size, poorer standards of road building, and more damage to fish and fish habitat. Legally, even under the original Code, it is possible to clear-cut a small stream, of less than 1.5 metres, right to its banks. These small streams are precisely the ecosystem most needed by the endangered coho salmon.

The only reason that B.C. did not receive a failing grade was due to the designation of new protected areas, especially the Cummins protected area in the Kootenays and one million hectares of new protected areas in the Northern Rockies. An additional 3.3 million hectares have been declared as Special Management Zones in the vicinity of the new Northern Rockies protected lands.

On the minus side of the ledger, the NDP government has reneged on its promise to develop endangered species legislation and now claims it is not needed. British Columbia clearly needs endangered species legislation. Its own Ministry of Environment acknowledges that 743 species in the province are at risk. Yet B.C.'s government has not only refused to bring in its own legislation, it has actively campaigned against the pathetic efforts at the federal level to protect "federal" species, claiming these intrude on provincial jurisdiction.

The government has also issued a series of approvals, extending logging into pristine forest areas. Western Forest Products received approval to build roads and clear-cut within the Ingram-Mooto watersheds along the Mid-Coast, in the area now known as the Great Bear Rainforest. Within the same area, Interfor received approval for clear-cutting in Johnston Creek, the largest coho producing river left in the Great Bear wilderness area. Roads were also approved in the Taku Wilderness -- a key area for which environmentalists are campaigning for stronger protection. Clear-cutting was approved in the Stoltman Wilderness. At the same time, the budget of the Ministry of Environment was slashed.

But the most outrageous evidence of the Clark government's growing antipathy to environmental concerns was the persecution of local residents of the Slocan Valley. Last summer, as logging moved in to unstable steep slopes above homes and farms, local residents formed blockades. These were not committed outsiders, but the elderly, men, women and children gathering by the hundred to protect their water supplies and their homes from the risk of landslides and sink holes. In fact, government experts have acknowledged that the risk of landslides will be increased by logging. Those arrested in the blockades were charged with criminal contempt. One elderly man, with Parkinson's Disease, was held in jail for over 70 days for refusing to sign an undertaking not to return to protests. The zeal with which the government sided with one of the province's largest industries, Slocan Forest Products, against its own citizens was obscene. The court chastised the government for misleading the court by filing evidence of hydrological reports creating the impression that all the reports had suggested there were no risks. In fact, some had confirmed the residents' worst fears. Worse still, the government put forward a case claiming they had arrested people on Crown land, when in fact, the protesters had been arrested on private land. While everyone fixates on leaky high-price condos in downtown Vancouver, local people in the Slocan Valley have lost homes and barely escaped with their lives, while B.C.'s government decides that logging is more important than their homes. No wonder the government isn't concerned about homes for endangered species, such as the marbled murrelet or spotted owl.

The irony in the wake of MacMillan Bloedel's announcement last week to phase out clear-cutting is that MacMillan Bloedel is way ahead of the B.C. government. While the B.C. government is unravelling the Forest Practices Code, MacMillan Bloedel's announced intentions will exceed the Code.

British Columbia - Climate Change:

1993 Grade:n/a

1994 Grade:C-

1995 Grade:C+

1996 Grade:D+

1997 Grade:C-

1998 Grade:F

Emissions of greenhouse gases are now 16% above 1990 levels in the province of British Columbia. Much of this is directly due to poor land use and transportation decisions in the Lower Mainland. But still, despite the creation of a multi-stakeholder Greenhouse Gas Forum, the B.C government has not developed a strategy to move aggressively to reduction.

Moreover, the government has announced a significant increase in oil and gas production in the province's northeast boreal region. This has implications for acid rain, air quality, as well as climate change. B.C. Hydro is also increasing its greenhouse gas emissions through investments in gas-fired co-generation facilities. Post-Kyoto is NOT the time to get involved in the fossil fuel business. Plans to double production are wholly inconsistent with a commitment to reducing greenhouse gases.

A+: Special Bonus Marks for Student Glen Clark - Extra Assignment Completed With High Marks.

Provincial opposition to the Multilateral Agreement on Investment suggests that Glen could do better in other subjects, if he applied himself.

Northwest Territories

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Biodiversity:

1996 Grade: D

1997 Grade: C-

1998 Grade: C

Northwest Territories brought up its biodiversity grade this year with a series of protected area announcements. Three new parks were designated by the Territorial Government. Work is progressing within aboriginal communities to find agreement on further protected areas. But as noted by World Wildlife Fund, the federal and territorial promise of a protected area strategy for this year is still unfulfilled.

Northwest Territories - Climate Change:

1993 Grade:n/a

1994 Grade:n/a

1995 Grade:D

1996 Grade:C-

1997 Grade:C-

1998 Grade:C

The Territorial government should move into the forefront in arguing for action on climate change. The MacKenzie Basin impact study has demonstrated a significant risk to the region. Permafrost is melting, ice is thinning, and new species are appearing. The Arctic governments must play a lead role.

Yukon

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Biodiversity:

1995 Grade: D

1996 Grade: D

1997 Grade: C

1998 Grade: C+

The Yukon government improved its grade again this year creating two major new protected areas, reaching the halfway mark in its protected areas strategy, and making a commitment to no more wolf kills. The two new areas, Tombstone Mountains and McCarthur Habitat Protection Area, received interim protection through the land claims negotiations with First Nations.

On the minus side, the Territorial government appears to be floundering in implementing its promising Yukon Forest Strategy, and the government was a negative force in opposing legislation to protect endangered species.

Yukon - Climate Change:

1993 Grade: N/A

1994 Grade: N/A

1995 Grade: D

1996 Grade: D

1997 Grade: C

1998 Grade: C

The Energy Commission, established in December 1996, continues its work and has produced a series of options papers for Yukon's energy future. The public consultation process within the Energy Commission has been viewed very positively by environmental groups in the territory.

As is the case with the N.W.T., the Yukon government should be more vocally demanding action in the provinces where failure to move aggressively to reduce greenhouse gases will result in severe environmental change which has already begun.

NOTES

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The Rio Report Card is produced annually by the Sierra Club of Canada as part of our Rio Watch project.

The report is researched and written by a team in Sierra Club of Canada's Ottawa office.

The 1998 report card was prepared by Elizabeth May, Angela Rickman, Christine Elwell, Ruth Edwards, Andrew MacDonald, John Bennett, and Paul Gregory.

The following groups are gratefully acknowledged for their assistance in providing information, reviewing drafts and commenting. The opinions expressed in the Report Card are those of the Sierra Club. Any errors are also the responsibility of the Sierra Club.

Thanks to:

Alberta Wilderness Association, Assembly of First Nations, Campaign for Nuclear Phase-out, Campaign for Pesticide Reduction, Canadian Environmental Law Association, Canadian Council for International Cooperation, Canadian Labour Congress, Canadian Nature Federation, Conservation Council of New Brunswick, Council of Canadians, Ecology Action Centre, Greenpeace, Halifax Initiative, Humber Environment Action Group, Environmental Coalition of PEI, Earth Action (PEI), International Fund for Animal Welfare, La Regroupement Ecologique de Val DÕOr et Environs, Le reseau environmentaux de Quebec, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Committee (Manitoba), Margaree Environmental Association, Pembina Institute, Saskatchewan Environmental Society, Sierra Legal Defence Fund, David Suzuki Foundation, Western Canada Wilderness Committee, World Wildlife Fund (Canada).



1998, Sierra Club of Canada