Appoint Senators for Nature, Prime Minister

January 26, 2016 (OTTAWA,ON) — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s upcoming appointments to the Senate should include advocates for nature conservation says Nature Canada.

“You have a wonderful opportunity to appoint Senators keen to be public advocates for nature conservation, as well as support the government’s agenda for environmental law reform” wrote Eleanor Fast, Nature Canada’s executive director, in a letter to the Prime Minister on Monday. “Appointing such Senators will build public support for biodiversity protection and reduced greenhouse gas emissions, as well as respect for the Senate.”

“The Senate has been tough on nature over the past decade” said Stephen Hazell, Nature Canada’s conservation director. “The Senate voted for the 2012 Omnibus budget bill that repealed or weakened many environmental laws without proposing a single amendment. The Senate also voted down the Climate Change Accountability Act in 2010, even though this legislation had been passed by a majority vote in the House of Commons.”

“Nature Canada recognizes the strong nature conservation efforts of Senators such as Grant Mitchell, Percy Downe, Janis Johnson, Nancy Greene-Raine and Bob Runciman, as well as former Senators Tommy Banks and Mira Spivak. But on balance the Senate’s record on environmental and nature issues has not been very good.”

The Prime Minister’s advisory body for Senate nominees is to be guided by criteria including a solid knowledge of the legislative process and the role of the Senate; “outstanding” personal qualities in areas such as public life, ethics and integrity; and a record of community service or “recognized leadership” in a field of expertise. “Nature Canada urges the advisory committee to nominate, and the Prime Minister to appoint, individuals with a record of service or recognized leadership in the nature and environmental communities.” said Fast.

“Appointing independent Senators frees them from Caucus discipline, thus providing an opportunity to be public voices for biodiversity, reduced GHG emissions, and a greener economy. Nature Canada is convinced that the Senate can become a respected national institution engaging Canadians in discussions about solutions to the critical climate change and biodiversity challenges facing humanity” said Fast. “The Prime Minister’s reform of the Senate appointment process is a first step on this path; the next is to appoint Senators who can raise their voices and galvanize action for nature in Ottawa and across Canada.”

Over the coming months, Nature Canada is planning an initiative to identify potential Senators for Nature for the Prime Minister and his advisory committee to consider.

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About Nature Canada
Nature Canada is the oldest national nature conservation charity in Canada. Over the past 75 years, Nature Canada has helped protect over 63 million acres of parks and wildlife areas in Canada and countless species that depend on this habitat. Today, Nature Canada represents a network of more than 45,000 members and supporters and more than 350 nature organizations across the country, with affiliates in every province. Nature Canada focuses on effecting change on issues of national significance including bird conservation,  citizen science initiatives, urban nature initiatives, building a national network of conservation organizations, building a network of volunteers to care for critical natural habitat sites across Canada and being a voice for nature at the federal level.

Media contact
Eleanor Fast
Executive Director
Phone: 613 314-8713
Email: efast@naturecanada.ca

Stephen Hazell
Director of Conservation and General Counsel
Phone: 613-724-1908
Email: shazell@naturecanada.ca