MONTREAL – A recent editorial in the New York Times praises Premier Jean Charest’s Plan Nord bill as “a remarkable precedent,” but critics note it also adds to growing pressure on Charest to strengthen the bill so that it truly protects from development half of northern Quebec, as Charest promised in his re-election campaign.
The $80-billion Plan Nord was billed by Charest as a way to preserve half of Quebec’s north by 2035, while allowing sustainable mining and forestry in the other half.
“The bill matters,” the editorial in Tuesday’s Times says, “not just to Canada but to the world: The boreal forests and tundra of northern Canada remain a relatively intact ecosystem, absorbing more carbon than the world’s tropical forests and providing a vital buffer against global warming.”
The editorial goes on to say that Charest had made a firm commitment to prevent all industrial activity in 150 million acres — half of northern Quebec, an area the size of France — but that government bureaucrats have watered down his intentions. The bill now promises only that at some future point steps will be taken to protect the environment and promote the sustainable use of resources.
Participants in a two-day forum on the Plan Nord in Quebec City echoed the concerns raised in the Times editorial.
“It’s a very good objective, this idea of protecting 50 per cent of the north, and it’s nice that Americans are applauding it,” said Christian Simard, director of Nature Quebec and a spokesperson for the Plan Nord Forum. “But so far, the Plan Nord is simply an arrangement to facilitate a mining boom.”
Forthe rest of this article, please go to the Montreal Gazette website: http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Times+praises+Plan+Nord+raises+concerns/6555626/story.html