NEWS

Arctic rhetoric and actions don't match, says environment commissioner's report

10/07/2014 10:10 EDT | Updated 12/07/2014 05:59 EST
Environment Commissioner Julie Gelfand’s first report pointed out a stark contradiction between government rhetoric and actions when it comes to Canada’s plans for the Arctic.

Despite the Conservative government’s much vaunted “Northern Strategy,” her report found problems with a lack of Arctic marine charts, navigation aids and icebreaking services.

“Overall, we found that there is no long-term national vision or co-ordinated departmental strategy to support safe marine transportation in the Arctic,” Gelfand wrote in her report.

The chapter titled “Marine Navigation in the Canadian Arctic” was one of six.

It focused on Transport Canada, Environment Canada, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the department that oversees the Canadian Coast Guard and the Canadian Hydrographic Service that makes marine charts.

The report found Arctic waters were inadequately surveyed and, on top of that, there wasn’t sufficient capacity to make charts. 

It also took aim at the Canadian Coast Guard and its icebreaking services.

“The Canadian Coast Guard’s icebreaking presence in the arctic is decreasing while vessel traffic is increasing,” she wrote.

The commissioner of the environment and sustainable development is part of the Office of the Auditor General of Canada. The commissioner’s office generally releases two reports to Parliament a year.

Gelfand was appointed in March, replacing Scott Vaughan, who left the office in 2013.

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