Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced plans to create a new conservation area off of Nunavut’s Baffin Island, which the government says will help it exceed its target of protecting 10 per cent of marine areas by 2020.
Trudeau, along with Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq and President of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association P.J. Akeeagok, unveiled plans to new create the Tuvaijuittuq (meaning “the place where the ice never melts”) marine protected area near the hamlet of Arctic Bay this morning during a stop in Iqaluit.
The order bans new or additional human activities in the area for up to five years, but still allows Inuit people to hunt and fish. There are also exceptions for emergency activities, some scientific research and “certain activities carried out by a foreign national, entity, ship or state.”
Trudeau also said the Tallurutiup Imanga national marine conservation area in the northeastern region of Nunavut is is now complete, making it Canada’s largest marine protected area.
Combined, these areas cover more than 427,000 square kilometres, which is larger than Newfoundland and Labrador, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.
“There is no question the climate crisis is changing the face of the Arctic as we know it. Populations of belugas, narwhals, walruses, seals, polar bears and thousands of other species who depend on year-round sea ice to survive are now migrating, dwindling, or in some cases, disappearing,” said Trudeau.
“For Inuit who have relied on hunting and harvesting to feed their families, climate change imperils their livelihoods and their way of life.”
Trudeau takes aim at Scheer
The announcements feed into the Liberal government’s messaging on climate policy, destined to be a key issue on the campaign trail this fall. Trudeau used his speech to take a swipe at the Conservative leader and his strategy for the North.
“In July, Andrew Scheer travelled to Whitehorse to outline his vision for the Arctic. Not once did he utter the word Inuit. It tells you a lot about the future he would build if he were prime minister,” he said.
It will also give the prime minister something to boast about when he attends a nomination meeting Thursday evening for Megan Pizzo Lyall, a former Iqaluit council member.
This is the second time Trudeau has visited Nunavut this year, and it’s his third visit to the territory during his tenure as prime minister.
In March, he visited Iqaluit to apologize to Inuit for abuses suffered during tuberculosis treatment in the mid-20th century.
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