The first opportunity will be to build on Jim Prentice's legacy and maintain the momentum towards completing Canada's systems of terrestrial and marine parks and protected areas. Mr. Kent will be able to draw on his experience as Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (Americas) to follow through on Canada's commitment to tri-lateral cooperation with the United States and Mexico on continental wilderness conservation. Examples of immediate do-able steps include working with the Dehcho and Tlicho Dene to formally establish the Edehzhie National Wildlife Area in the Northwest Territories, and working with the Oikigtani Inuit Association to negotiate boundaries for Lancaster Sound National Marine Conservation Area.
Secondly, the Minister will need to work with the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to improve and accelerate the federal government's performance in implementing protection for Canada's ever-more-numerous species at risk. To date Canada has recognized over 600 species as being at risk of extinction, but has approved an action plan for recovery for only one species. The Minister should act quickly to ensure that the Government of Canada finally adopts a much-delayed suite of policies guiding implementation of the act.Thirdly, the new Minister will face the challenge of convincing his cabinet colleagues to end the federal government's inaction on climate change. This will require a tidal shift to policies that effectively reduce Canada's greenhouse gas emissions. Related policies are also needed to rein in the many environmental impacts of the tar sands, and avert the looming environmental disasters associated with unconventional oil and gas development.
Finally, in the context of the UN decade for biodiversity and the international year of the forest, we at Nature Canada hope to work with the Minister and both Environment Canada and Parks Canada on the development of an ambitious national conservation plan.
We look forward to meeting with Mr. Kent and helping Canada seize the nature conservation opportunities that we are so fortunate to have.