Shanni Bee Letters 10&12Nov2020

Letters to Liberal Caandidates for leader of party/Premier

Open letter to Iain Rankin: “How are voters to trust you with a record like that?”
By Shanni Bale in the Nova Scotia Advocate Nov 10, 2020. “Mr. Rankin, your pledges need to be trustworthy if you want them to translate into votes, and how are voters to trust you with a record like that? More needs to be done to restore credibility, and clearly, much more needs to be done towards a sustainable future in this province. I have three propositions that have the potential to go a good way towards both.”

– Posted by Shanni Bee on Stop Spraying & Clear-Cutting Nova Scotia (Public Facebook Group)

Nov 12, 2020

This is a letter I sent to Iain Rankin’s rivals for the Premier-ship, Randy Delorey and Labi Kousoulis (a companion letter to the one I sent to Rankin several days ago.) Note that neither of these gentlemen have said one word on *any* environmental issue as of yet (that I have heard). This is especially egregious for Mr. Delorey, who is a former environment minister.
To: The Honourable Randy Delorey,

My name is Shanni Bale. I am a resident of Halifax (Armdale), and I hold a master’s degree in landscape ecology from Dalhousie University, where one of my key specializations was habitat connectivity. I have also published peer-reviewed research related to the conservation of endangered bird species in this province. More than that, I am a long-time environmental activist, I stay abreast of local politics (particularly as they pertain to environmental issues in this province), and I have been following the current race for Liberal Party Leader.
Mr. Delorey, as I hope you are aware, we are currently living through a mass extinction. Conservation biologists predict that half of the species with which we share our planet will be gone by 2050, and a million of those within just a few years. What’s more, thanks to decades of inaction (with the NS Liberals complicit since 2013), catastrophic climate change is no longer the stuff of a distant dystopian future. It is here. Now. Today. This 2020 has been the worst year for a litany of natural disasters, breaking or even shattering previous historical records for hurricanes, wildfires, flooding, and heatwaves. The UN has further determined that somewhere in the world, there is a climate related disaster every week. Every. Single. Week. But the science is telling us that climate change fallout is about to get much worse, and in as little as ten years, the extreme weather events of 2020 will feel like the good old days.

There is widespread scientific consensus that the single biggest driver of species extinctions is habitat fragmentation and loss. There is also widespread consensus that preserving large tracts of unperturbed wilderness is critical for climate resilience. Yet in this province, globally rare ecosystems (e.g., the Broom Crowberry coastal barren in Owls Head Provincial Park Reserve) and mature forests that provide critical habitat and habitat connectivity for at-risk species (e.g., the crown forest between the Tobeatic and Silver River Wilderness Areas) continue to be sold unabated to rich developers and corporate mining and forestry interests.

Mr. Delorey, when I look at the candidates for Liberal leadership, I am deeply alarmed because I do not see anyone who seems to truly understand the gravity of the crises that we face. One of your rivals, Iain Rankin, has made a few notable, if vague, pledges. (Namely, to set a provincial emissions reduction target of 80% by 2030 and to “accelerate” the implementation of the Lahey Report.) Unfortunately, Mr. Rankin’s terrible record of kowtowing to moneyed interests as Minister of Lands & Forestry makes environmentally-driven voters deeply distrustful of his promises. Still, Mr. Rankin has at least given lip service to climate change and habitat destruction, which is more than I can say for you or Mr. Kousoulis, who have not yet bothered to mention any environmental issue at all. (As you are a former environment minister, I find your silence especially egregious.)

Clearly, environment & climate change need to be a bigger part of the discussion in the Liberal leadership contest, and many Nova Scotians want to know where their potential future premiers stand. I am thus writing all three leadership candidates with the same questions about three issues that are crucial to achieving a more sustainable future in this province.

1. Will you commit to appoint scientists, ecologists, or individuals with a proven record of prioritizing conservation & sustainability to the posts of Minister of Lands and Forestry and Minister of Environment? The Nova Scotia Liberals have a long tradition of naming businessmen and former businessmen to these important positions. Mr. Rankin served as both, and his background is in business and golf club management. You, Sir, also have a background in business. The current Environment Minister, Gordon Wilson, has a background in the forest industry and has gone out of his way to assure people he is ‘not an environmentalist’. We have seen the disastrous results. This is no longer acceptable.

2. What is your plan with regard to the implementation of the Lahey Report? Despite repeated promises to implement Professor Lahey’s recommendations, this report has collected dust on a shelf for more than two years. Can you please provide firm deadlines for the implementation of various Lahey measures and explicitly state when and by how much clearcutting would be curtailed under a Delorey government? Also, please clarify (with a quantifiable value) how far a proposed clear-cut would need to be from a protected area in order to gain approval from your government.
3. What emissions reductions targets will you establish if elected premier and how will you achieve them? Do you intend to retain the current (inadequate) goal of a 53% reduction (from 2005 levels) by 2030, or will you commit to a more ambitious target? In attempting to achieve these reductions, will you target the worst industrial polluters with legally binding regulations and meaningful consequences or will you rely on ‘voluntary measures’, as the NS Liberals have done in the past? Regardless of your answers, please detail (with quantifiable benchmarks) how you plan to achieve your proposed targets.

Mr. Delorey, the science is clear. The climate and ecological crises we face are the single most important issues facing our province and planet. Whether your priorities align with mine and a large community of environmentally-conscious Nova Scotians or not, the people of this province deserve to know where you stand. I would be most appreciative if you would provide a written response to my questions, and I will be sure to share your answers with many other environmentally-driven voters who want to make an informed choice at the ballot box.
Shanni Bale
BSc, Ecology
MES, Landscape Ecology