State of Canada’s Natural and Cultural Heritage Places 2016


Nearly Half of National Park Ecosystems Rate as ‘Fair’ or ‘Poor’ in Parks Canada Report

By Susan Lunn | January 26, 2017

A federal report by Parks Canada shows that almost half of the ecosystems in the country’s national parks remain in fair to poor condition, five years after a previous report with similar concerns.

The report, called State of Canada’s Natural and Cultural Heritage Places, was tabled in the House of Commons in mid-December.

It contains a table rating the condition of forests, freshwater lakes, wetlands and coastal areas in all national parks across the country.

The report finds that 29 of the 41 national parks and reserves measured had at least one ecosystem rated as fair or poor. Twelve of the parks or reserves had all of the areas measured rated as good. […]

Canadians currently have an opportunity to tell the minister directly what they want done with federal parks.

[Federal Environment Minister Catherine] McKenna has been holding in-person and online consultations with stakeholders and the general public. The consultations wrap up Friday.

More than 1,700 people have submitted comments, many of them urging the minister to put nature before development.

Woodley isn’t surprised.

“I think it’s important for this government to understand Canadians do love our national parks. They are one of our top symbols of national identity.

“But they love them because they’re natural. Because they’re wild spaces that are places where wildlife can live and where there’s pristine natural beauty,” Woodley said. …

Read the rest of this article at the CBC:


State of Canada’s Natural and Cultural Heritage Places

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Do We Have an Inferiority Complex about Great Canadians?

A new Canadian fisheries vessel will be named after English Royal Navy officer and explorer Sir John Franklin, who disappeared into the Arctic in 1847 with two ships and 128 of his men.

Do We Have an Inferiority Complex about Great Canadians?

By Jack Knox | January 17, 2017

Here’s a question: Why name a federal research ship after a foreigner synonymous with disaster when you could celebrate Canadian achievement instead?

Which, in a nutshell, is what critics are asking as Canada prepares to launch the Sir John Franklin next winter.

The ship, a replacement for the Nanaimo-based W.E. Ricker, is the first of three offshore fisheries research vessels being built for the Canadian Coast Guard by Seaspan in North Vancouver.

As construction began in June 2015, Ottawa announced the 63-metre vessel would be named after Franklin, the explorer who famously (or infamously) disappeared into the Arctic with both of his ships and all 128 of his men after sailing from England in 1845.

The ships’ whereabouts remained one of the world’s great mysteries despite dozens of attempts to find them over the years. Franklin’s wife, the indomitable Lady Jane Franklin, drove a series of searches that failed to locate her husband (she actually spent a month in Victoria in 1861), but that did have the effect of gradually filling in the map of the north, cementing Britain’s — and subsequently Canada’s — territorial claims.

Eventually, the fate of the sailors emerged: After becoming stuck in the ice of Victoria Strait in 1846, they set out overland in April 1848 in a desperate attempt to reach Fort Resolution, 1,000 kilometres away. None survived. Although remains of crew members were found (indications are some resorted to cannibalism) the location of the ships was unknown — until a couple of years ago.

The Franklin mystery was big news in 2015, given that the expedition’s flagship, HMS Erebus, had just been found intact on the ocean floor the previous September. (The Victoria-based coast guard ship Sir Wilfrid Laurier played a central role in the discovery; in March 2015, two dozen members of the crew were awarded medals by Sen. Nancy Greene Raine at Sidney’s Institute of Ocean Sciences.) The second sunken ship, HMS Terror, was found last year.

If the romance of it all made politicians keen to slap the Franklin name on the new research ship in 2015, some historians and scientists are balking today. Who wants to serve on a vessel whose name conjures up an image of nautical disaster? That would be like sailing on a nuclear submarine named USS Chernobyl. Why not honour a successful Canadian instead?

“It’s a complete puzzle to me,” says Robie Macdonald. “It’s a sad thing that they have taken an opportunity to do something good and turned it into a negative.” … Why not give the ship an indigenous name, Macdonald asks. Or why not honour one of the many deserving women in ocean research? (Coast guard ship names tilt to the masculine.) “There are a lot of people they could have named it after.” …

Read the rest of this article at the Times-Colonist:

Canadian Stereotypes Debunked

No Hosers Here, eh? Canadian Stereotypes Debunked

Canada is often pictured as a uniformly cold, multicultural, socialist paradise full of beer-swilling ice hockey fans. But a close look at the evidence reveals some very different truths—good and bad—about the Great White North

By Richard Whittall | 16 January 2017

It’s pretty easy to conjure an idea of a Canadian. As one young paramour looking to marry an American told a dating website: “She must be willing to become a hockey fan and eat maple syrup and Beaver Tails in my igloo.”

There’s more to the stereotype, of course. Canada’s universal health care and gun-control legislation are frequently namechecked by American politicians (often disapprovingly), while the country’s adventurers have a long-standing tradition of stitching tiny Canadian flags into their backpacks.

But while some of these cliches are true—Tim Hortons really does sell more of its hot brown drink (they call it “coffee”) than any other restaurant chain—a deep dive into the actual statistics suggest that much of the country’s image is just that.

Some of the most common misconceptions about Canada include:

Canadians live in the wilderness

Pierre Berton once declared: “A Canadian is somebody who knows how to make love in a canoe.”

But there are a few problems with this all-Canadian adage, beyond the obvious issue of tipping. For one, Berton never actually said it. For another, the image of Canadians as a wilderness-dwelling people is not borne out by research: as of 2011, a full 81% of Canadians resided in a “population centre”, census speak for urban area.

In fact, about 35.2%, or one in three Canadians, lives in either Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver alone.

And if you think the vast majority Canada’s city-dwellers love nothing more than to race to the countryside, you’d also be wrong: a 2010 poll found that only 23% of Canadians see their ideal vacation as a visit to a cottage or a lake.

Read the rest of this article at The Guardian:


Is Canada the World’s First ‘Postnational’ Country?

The Canada Experiment: Is this the World’s First ‘Postnational’ Country?

When Justin Trudeau said ‘there is no core identity, no mainstream in Canada’, he was articulating a uniquely Canadian philosophy that some find bewildering, even reckless – but could represent a radical new model of nationhood

By Charles Foran | The Independent | 04 January 2017

achs_maple-leafAs 2017 begins, Canada may be the last immigrant nation left standing. Our government believes in the value of immigration, as does the majority of the population. We took in an estimated 300,000 newcomers in 2016, including 48,000 refugees, and we want them to become citizens; around 85% of permanent residents eventually do. Recently there have been concerns about bringing in single Arab men, but otherwise Canada welcomes people from all faiths and corners. The greater Toronto area is now the most diverse city on the planet, with half its residents born outside the country; Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa and Montreal aren’t far behind. Annual immigration accounts for roughly 1% of the country’s current population of 36 million.

Canada has been over-praised lately for, in effect, going about our business as usual. In 2016 such luminaries as US President Barack Obama and Bono, no less, declared “the world needs more Canada”. In October, the Economist blared “Liberty Moves North: Canada’s Example to the World” on its cover, illustrated by the Statue of Liberty haloed in a maple leaf and wielding a hockey stick. Infamously, on the night of the US election Canada’s official immigration website crashed, apparently due to the volume of traffic.

Of course, 2016 was also the year – really the second running – when many western countries turned angrily against immigration, blaming it for a variety of ills in what journalist Doug Saunders calls the “global reflex appeal to fear”. Alongside the rise of nativism has emerged a new nationalism that can scarcely be bothered to deny its roots in racial identities and exclusionary narratives.

Compared to such hard stances, Canada’s almost cheerful commitment to inclusion might at first appear almost naive. It isn’t. There are practical reasons for keeping the doors open. Starting in the 1990s, low fertility and an aging population began slowing Canada’s natural growth rate. Ten years ago, two-thirds of population increase was courtesy of immigration. By 2030, it is projected to be 100%.

The economic benefits are also self-evident, especially if full citizenship is the agreed goal. All that “settlers” – ie, Canadians who are not indigenous to the land – need do is look in the mirror to recognize the generally happy ending of an immigrant saga. Our government repeats it, our statistics confirm it, our own eyes and ears register it: diversity fuels, not undermines, prosperity.

But as well as practical considerations for remaining an immigrant country, Canadians, by and large, are also philosophically predisposed to an openness that others find bewildering, even reckless. The prime minister, Justin Trudeau, articulated this when he told the New York Times Magazine that Canada could be the “first postnational state”. He added: “There is no core identity, no mainstream in Canada.”

The remark, made in October 2015, failed to cause a ripple – but when I mentioned it to Michael Bach, Germany’s minister for European affairs, who was touring Canada to learn more about integration, he was astounded. No European politician could say such a thing, he said. The thought was too radical. …

Read the rest of this article at The Independent: