Green Party of Canada Platform: 1.19 Expanding cultural tourism and ecotourism, 1.20 Mining

A continuing review of  the Green Party of Canada’s Platform:

1.19 Expanding cultural tourism and ecotourism

Travel and tourism is the world’s number one employer and represents more than 10% of global spending. The tourism sector in Canada is unique in that it makes a significant contribution to every region’s cultural and economic well-being. It goes beyond creating jobs and foreign exchange revenue. It enables Canadians to explore our land and helps knit our country together. With revenues of over $74 billion in 2008, tourism constituted 2 % of Canada’s GDP and employed over 660,000 Canadians. This is nearly as much as our forestry and agricultural industries combined. Within the federal government, the Ministry of Industry has the lead responsibility for tourism policy.

The Greens believe we must foster a sustainable, green, low-carbon tourism industry and market it responsibly throughout the world. We believe we must provide exceptional tourist experiences by having the finest National Park system, the best museums and cultural activities and the most hospitable service. To do this, the Canadian government must play a bigger role in promoting, coordinating and guiding efforts across the entire country.

Green Party MPs will:

  • Create a separate federal Department of Tourism to coordinate all aspects of tourism. This ministry will focus on helping the fastest-growing sector of global tourism, ecotourism, become stronger, and through special programs encourage Aboriginal Canadians to assume a bigger role in it.

  • Increase funding to the arts, culture and heritage sector (see Part 4.15 Arts and Culture)

  • Work to make sure our borders are open and security measures are reasonable.

  • Reverse the Conservative government’s decision to eliminate the GST rebate for foreign visitors.

  • Build a low-carbon tourism sector based on intermodal rail and bicycle touring.

1.20 Mining

While the control of natural resources is allocated to provincial governments, the consequences of mining often encroach on areas of federal jurisdiction, especially on fisheries. This energy intensive industry also contributes nearly twice as much to Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions as do all domestic flights in Canada.

The Greens support triple bottom line analysis, measuring social, environmental and economic costs and benefits. Such an analysis must be conducted before approval is given for a mine. We should not be mining products in Canada, like asbestos and uranium, that are highly toxic to our environment and to human health. The Green Party will require that mine reclamation plans include detailed plans and effective measures to deal with acid mine drainage and are in place before active mining begins. The Greens will also provide tax benefits to reward full recycling of metals, as recycling is a far more cost-effective way to produce metals than to mine virgin materials. Mining should be subjected to full cost accounting. The reality is that mining may contribute very little local employment, but leaves behind the residues, leaching ponds, poisoning of the water table, damaged roads due to heavy trucks (becoming a township, local taxpayer expense) and the real gains, if they are real, are in value added jobs elsewhere. New mines, even exploration, often are a disincentive to other investments and land uses, since the threat of mining lowers land values. For instance, there is currently no monitoring of the impacts of uranium mining on ground water, agricultural lands, or air quality as wind carries pollutant loads to other provinces.

Green Party MPs will:

  • Call for government action to require life-cycle product stewardship of metals to ensure that once mined, they remain in economic service for generations.

  • Vigorously oppose the permitting of any new uranium mines and notify current uranium-permit holders of plans to phase out this industry in Canada, including exports.

  • Prohibit the export of fissionable nuclear material.

  • Develop plans to fast-track the end to asbestos mining in Canada and assist the Quebec government and industry in phasing out the chrysotile mining industry, providing transition support for affected workers, families and communities. (Chrysotile asbestos is a known carcinogen with no known safe threshold to avoid sickness. The European Union has banned importation of this mineral. Currently Canada exports 220,000 tonnes of chrysotile asbestos, mostly to developing countries that do not have the resources to handle it safely.)

  • Shift Canada’s position to support Prior Informed Consent rules under the Rotterdam Convention for asbestos.

  • Push for an end to all subsidies to the mining sector to ensure full-cost accounting. End the tax benefits to flow-through shares promoting prospecting and exploration in unlikely areas. End prospecting for tax write-offs.

  • Work with provinces, territories and industry to ensure that all mining operations are insured for environmental liabilities, and have an adequate pre-funded plan for remediation, both for the short and long-term, when a mine closes.

  • Introduce a Corporate Social Responsibility Act to regulate the mining industry, requiring the highest environmental practices both in Canada and wherever Canadian companies operate, and ensure that waters are not contaminated during mining operations and after a mine closes.

Comments and discussion are welcomed.  I am examining this as I go to gain a better grasp of their platform and invite all who are interested to do the same with comments and discussion.

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