06/19/2012 - While Canada is being condemned at a major international gathering on environmental protection and sustainable development in Brazil, Jean Charest is reaping praise for the work Quebec is doing to bolster the long-term health of the planet.
The Premier has been trying for months to promote Plan Nord, his economic development proposal for northern Quebec that has been overshadowed by student protests. It has been decried by some aboriginal and environmental groups as a scheme to fast-track mining and other development in the province’s untapped regions.
But Mr. Charest said Tuesday in Rio Di Janiero, where heads of state from around the world and thousands of other participants are attending the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, that Plan Nord legislation will be amended to fulfill his pledge to protect half of northern Quebec from industrial activity.
Mathew Jacobson of the Pew Environment Group’s boreal campaign, who is also in Brazil for the conference, said in a statement that Mr. Charest’s promise will protect more than 600,000 square kilometres – an area about the size of France – from all industrial activity. The Canadian boreal forest, which stretches across the northern parts of provinces from Newfoundland to British Columbia, is the Earth’s largest intact forest ecosystem and its largest storehouse of carbon.
“Quebec’s boreal region is a world class ecosystem, and it deserves world class leadership,” Mr. Jacobson said. “When this policy is strengthened, it could lead to the single largest land conservation initiative in history. Working in partnership with aboriginal communities and implementing science-based ecological planning, the Quebec government will create a new global model for sustainable development.”
Read the full article, Quebec Cheered, Ottawa Jeered at Global Green Gathering, on the Globe and Mail's website.