Moving Forward on Environmental Justice

March 29, 2016


In the lively discourse leading up to our recent Nova Scotia NDP leadership convention, several important environmental issues were raised and discussed: action on climate change and aquaculture, strengthened environmental assessment and protection laws (and their enforcement), carbon pricing, and bringing to life an Environmental Bill of Rights.

These ideas germinated in policy proposals that over the years have been developed by the Nova Scotia NDP’s strong Environment Committee.

In addition to our own fine environmentalists, Nova Scotia benefits from the work of the activists at the Ecology Action Centre (EAC).

Alongside former NDP MLA and policy advisor Howard Epstein, I met earlier this month with seven of the EAC’s researcher/advocates: Policy Director Mark Butler; Energy Coordinator Catherine Abreu; Energy Officer Stephen Thomas; Wilderness Coordinator Raymond Plourde; Freshwater Coordinator Jocelyne Rankin; Coastal Adaptation Coordinator Robin Tress; and Susanna Fuller, who serves as the Marine Conservation Coordinator.

From coastal protection to biomass, from the need for a water strategy to Alton Gas storage, more than 20 important environmental issues were laid on the table during our meeting. Throughout the wide-ranging non-partisan discussion, we explored policy areas new and old. Several of the EAC’s priorities dovetail with the Environmental Justice provisions we are examining as a party.

In the view of the EAC representatives, many of Nova Scotia’s most difficult environmental problems are really pressing in on us, and firm legislative initiatives are required. We happen to agree, and NDP members should expect that our caucus will carry a strong environmental message in the House of Assembly.

A very accomplished NDP Environment Committee has given us policy direction for many years, and it continues to do so. We have the benefit, as well, of the scientific and educational experts at the EAC, from whom we have much to learn. This combination of movement activism and strong Party policy can give us the confidence to move forward with the environmental policies Nova Scotia needs. And that is what we will do.

I really appreciate the EAC team taking the time to meet with me.

In solidarity and hope,