Justin Trudeau seeks to highlight climate policy in visit to Canada’s Far North

The country now has protection measures in place for almost 14 per cent of Canada’s marine and coastal areas

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau injected a dose of electoral politics into an announcement Thursday in Canada’s Far North, taking aim at his Conservative rival while unveiling a new marine protected area.

Trudeau is using the trip to showcase some of the more dramatic effects of climate change in order to promote his Liberal government’s record on climate action ahead of this fall’s federal election.

He announced the creation of a new marine protected area near Arctic Bay — an Inuit hamlet on the northwest corner of Baffin Island that will be known as the Tuvaijuittuq Marine Protected Area. Tuvaijuittuq means “the place where the ice never melts.”

But melting sea ice and increased shipping traffic have posed increased threats to many important local species, including sea birds, narwhals and bowhead whales.

The country now has protection measures in place for almost 14 per cent of Canada’s marine and coastal areas, an area spanning more than 427,000 square kilometres — an area larger than Newfoundland and Labrador. The Liberals had targeted protected 10 per cent of Canada’s marine and coastal areas by 2020.

Trudeau used the backdrop of shifting Arctic terrain and endangered sea life to cast himself and his Liberal party as best-placed to serve as stewards of the environment — already shaping up to be a key ballot box issue — and as partners with Inuit in protecting the North.

“How we choose to use this territory, I think, is telling of the kind of future that we hope to build,” he said.

READ MORE: Election leaders’ debates will be more accessible than ever, commission says

“In July, Andrew Scheer travelled to Whitehorse to outline his vision for the Arctic. Not once did he mention the word ‘Inuit.’ It tells you a lot about the future he would build if he were prime minister. But he did talk about unlocking untapped potential in the region — and on that, he agrees with us.”

Last month, a political spat erupted over the Liberal plan to introduce a clean-fuel standard, another example of how the divisive political debate over climate policy is likely to play out on the campaign trail

The fuel standard would require cleaner-burning fuels as a way to reduce overall carbon emissions by 30 million tonnes a year.

Scheer accused the Liberals of plotting to levy a “secret fuel tax” on Canadians by enforcing a standard that would increase the cost of gasoline. The Liberals wasted no time firing back, accusing Conservatives of hurling smears, while also calling the Conservative environment policy “anti-climate action.”

Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, said climate change has already had devastating impacts on local infrastructure in the territories — a trend that is projected to continue if emissions and global temperatures continue to rise.

A recent report by Canadian scientists warned that most Canadian Arctic marine regions would be free of sea ice for part of the summer by 2050 and that most small ice caps and ice shelves in the Canadian arctic will disappear by 2100, even if emission reduction measures are enacted.

That’s why Obed said he hopes political parties will not simply bicker about the merits of a carbon tax as they debate climate policy during the campaign, but rather look more broadly at the real-life, “drastic” effects of climate change on northern communities.

“Fixating on one or two pieces of a climate-action policy sometimes overshadows the larger picture,” he said.

“People should be very concerned about the reality of the Canadian Arctic and the fact that it is a part of Canada. Just because somebody might not see massive changes in their backyard today doesn’t necessarily mean that there shouldn’t be urgent concern from all Canadians about the Arctic and the Inuit portion of the climate discussion.”

Later Thursday, Trudeau was to attend a nomination meeting for the sole candidate vying to represent the Liberals in Nunavut.

Megan Pizzo Lyall, a former Iqaluit council member who is now based in Rankin Inlet, will be acclaimed as the Liberal candidate for Nunavut after being the only qualified contestant to successfully complete the application process, according to the Liberal party website.

The seat has been held by former Liberal cabinet minister turned Independent MP Hunter Tootoo, who announced earlier this week he will not seek re-election.

Pizzo Lyall will be going up against Conservative candidate Leona Aglukkaq, who served as Nunavut’s MP from 2008 to 2015, including as one of Stephen Harper’s cabinet ministers.

Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Process to identify those killed in Gabriola plane crash could take days

Canadian flight museum suggests Alex Bahlsen of Mill Bay died in Tuesday’s crash

Conservation officers put down fawn blinded by BB gun in Nanaimo

Young deer found near construction site in Hammond Bay area

UPDATE: One person dead after crash on Nanaimo Lakes Road

One person dies, another was injured in the accident which happened at about noon Wednesday

Vancouver Island universities raking in the cash from foreign students

B.C. universities post $340 million worth of surpluses thanks to international student tuition

UPDATE: One person dead after crash on Nanaimo Lakes Road

One person dies, another was injured in the accident which happened at about noon Wednesday

Raptors fans show Kawhi the love in his return to Toronto

Leonard receives championship ring, leads new club to win

Brotherston sentenced to three years in prison for Sooke home invasion

Home invasion took place on Feb. 9 and left one man with face and head injuries

Royal Jubilee getting 15 new end-of-life care beds

New patient beds in hospice and acute palliative care to be in place by spring 2020

B.C. guide fined $2K in first conviction under new federal whale protection laws

Scott Babcock found guilty of approaching a North Pacific humpback whale at less than 100 metres

‘Honest mistake:’ RCMP says B.C. cannabis shop can keep image of infamous Mountie

Sam Steele wearing military, not RCMP uniform in image depicted in Jimmy’s Cannabis window

Laid-off forest workers converge on B.C. legislature

Loggers call for action on strike, provincial stumpage

Feds urge Air Canada to fix booking problems as travel season approaches

The airline introduced the new reservation system more than three weeks ago

Almost 14,000 Canadians killed by opioids since 2016: new national study

17,000 people have been hospitalized for opioid-related poisoning

Most Read