CPAWS Lobby day, Jane Sorensen’s blog


It seems like it only happened last week, but it happened a couple months ago, in October – some of my SNAP colleagues and I went to Ottawa to participate in CPAWS' 50th Anniversary celebrations, and to meet some of our federal politicians for CPAWS' annual Lobby Day. 

As a SNAP Quebec board member, this is the event where I feel most at home, strong, and at ease in all our activities. I was in “The Corridors of Power!” as my inner voice excitedly blurts out when I get past security on my way to a politician's office.

My colleagues Patrick, Vincent, Joshua, Marie-Ève, and Murielle filled out the rest of the Quebec contingent of the team of 43 CPAWS staff and board members from across the country who took to Parliament Hill for this year’s Lobby Day. We had 10 meetings that day with 9 Members of Parliament and one Senator. I found myself in conversation with Sylvain Chicoine of Chateauguay-St. Constant on the south shore of Montreal, Mathieu Ravignat of Pontiac, which is northeast and northwest of Gatineau, and with Tyrone Benskin, the MP from my own Montreal riding of Jeanne-Le Ber.

As we were speaking with MPs, we highlighted areas where the Federal government had made conservation missteps (like cutting Parks funding or weakening wilderness and water protection legislation in the Omnibus bill) and requested more support for these areas. We also pointed out areas where the government had been making good ground (such as announcing its intent to invoke protection for the Greater Prairie Sage Grouse) so that the MPs can hold the government to its promises.

Our job was also to educate MPs first about who we are if they did not already know. Then, after the introductions, we spoke about several issues: the plight of the caribou and the impact of northern development on their ability to survive, the necessity for supporting conservation science and jobs within the National Parks network both for sound policy now and for future visitor experiences, and finally, about Canada's huge potential role but present weak standing when it comes to Marine Protected Areas.

Ultimately, our meetings were to sensitize and get MPs of all stripes on board with planning and using the environmental and development strategy that Canada and the world most needs: a connected and continuous network of protected nature that ensures that all species can thrive and all landscapes can continue to exist in the forms that only nature itself can take credit for.

In the past year, our commitment to collaborative work demonstrated itself to be effective at protecting the Species at Risk Act and, thereby, protecting species at risk. I anticipate that our meetings with the MPs will open more doors to even more collaborative efforts, so that we can celebrate in 25 years' time even greater achievements than our 50th anniversary highlighted.

Well done, crew!