Quebec Elections: Questions for the candidates

The provincial elections in Quebec will be held on October 1, 2018. The parties have announced their respective platforms which you can consult online. At Ottawa Riverkeeper, we believe that our elected officials have a duty to address environmental issues of concern to citizens, such as the impacts of climate change and human activity on our waterways.

The territory of the Ottawa River watershed in Quebec covers approximately 95,000 km², is inhabited by more than 475,000 people, and encompasses three regions of the province: Abitibi, the Laurentians and the Outaouais. Whether it be residents who enjoy using public beaches, boaters, other water sports enthusiasts, or people whose drinking water comes from the river, all can benefit from a healthy, swimmable, drinkable, and fishable Ottawa River watershed.

If you are attending public debates or events with local candidates, here are some questions that you can ask to those seeking a mandate to govern Quebec and specifically, represent our beautiful regions of the Outaouais, Abitibi, and Laurentians.

 

QUESTIONS FOR THE CANDIDATES

1. PLASTIC IN OUR RIVERS

Did you know that only 11% of plastic waste is recycled in Canada? Every day, much of this plastic is discharged into our waterways, including the Ottawa River. What steps will your government take to find innovative solutions to our problem of plastic pollution? We believe that we must move towards a circular economy, where plastic waste is eliminated, and plastics are recycled and reused for the most part. What will you do to bring us to a circular economy?

2. SEWAGE OVERFLOWS

Did you know that most watershed municipalities have no system to notify the public of sewage discharges into our waterways? Are you going to support a regulation requiring municipalities to report overflows in real-time, ensuring that the waters are safe for swimming or recreational activities?

3. NUCLEAR WASTE

Since 1945, Canada has accumulated nuclear waste at the Chalk River Canadian Nuclear Laboratories on the shore of the Ottawa River. Close by, in Rolphton, an inactive reactor contaminates surface waters with radioactive tritium, mercury and lead. These sites endanger our majestic Ottawa River. Many stakeholders in Quebec, including the City of Gatineau, have expressed serious concerns about the Chalk River project. During the previous stages of the environmental assessment of the project, the Government of Quebec intervened to present its questions and concerns. Will your government commit to continue participating in the subsequent stages of the environmental assessment of this project?

4. FLOODING – WETLANDS

The spring floods of 2017 in the Outaouais, specifically in the Gatineau area, have clearly demonstrated the vital role that wetlands can play in mitigating environmental and economic impacts. It is true that some of the damage and costs associated with property repairs could have been avoided, or at least mitigated if the space occupied by wetlands along the Ottawa River had covered a greater amount of land area. Quebec’s new regulations related to this allow developers to pay a compensation for the destruction of wetlands. We believe, like the Regroupement des organismes de bassins versants du Québec, that avoidance and minimization measures should be prioritized before compensation measures. Also, if compensation measures are to be taken, we believe that the no net loss objective will be possible only if the rates of compensation imposed are sufficiently high. What are your intention with regards to the protection of wetlands and the goal of no net loss in Quebec?

5. AMERICAN EEL

The American Eel, once one of the most widespread species in the Ottawa River, experienced a catastrophic 99% collapse in just one generation. The recovery of this specie is possible, but as of today, Quebec has no strategy to achieve this. On the Ontario side, the government has announced its objective of restoring the American Eel in the Ottawa River by working with other jurisdictions to make it happen. Would your government also commit to working with the Ontario government to restore the eel in the Ottawa River?

6. WATER STRATEGY

Quebec recently unveiled its 2018-2030 Quebec Water Strategy. This ambitious plan provides 3 phases of action involving 11 departments, all financed by a budget of over $ 550 million. What is the most important component of this strategy for you?

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