There seems to be a radical disconnect between the claim — splashed breathlessly atop the front page of The Globe and Mail on Monday — that Canada is failing to protect its environment and the fact that securing approval for any piece of hinterland development these days amounts to a slog through an endless bog of regulation and review.
According to the Globe story, which was based on the annual report conveniently leaked in advance to it by the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, CPAWS, Canada is lagging commitments made under the UN’s Convention on Biodiversity. Since 2010, its “protected” areas have increased from “only” 9.6 per cent to 10.6 per cent of the country, versus the commitment of 17 per cent by 2020 made by the Harper government.
The first question is why the Harper government would have allowed itself to be roped into such an exercise in subversive calculation. All such commitments really do is to provide a fundraising soapbox for radical environmental NGOs.
Meanwhile, the concept of “protection” demands more thorough analysis. What it means is declaring great swathes of the country off limits for investment and job creation, on the ideologically skewed assumption that development and a healthy environment cannot coexist.
Alarmists play on the bogus assumption that since “only” 10 per cent of Canada has been sanitized, 90 per cent must be in danger of being turned into an oil sands Mordor. However, for some much-needed perspective, the amount of urban land in Canada is not much more than one-quarter of one per cent of its landmass. For that matter, oil sands development has been projected to disturb just 0.02 per cent of the boreal forest over 40 years.