NDP Demands Action on Pastures

February 15th, 2017

Ottawa – The Liberal government must reconsider transferring the last blocks of grassland to the Province of Saskatchewan, NDP Members of Parliament said today.

“Conservative and Liberal governments have handed off responsibility for Saskatchewan’s environmentally critical grasslands without any concern for their future protection,” Kootenay-Columbia MP and National Parks critic Wayne Stetski said to the Minister of the Environment during Question Period.

“As we come close to losing the last three pastures in the southwest corner of the province, will the Minister of the Environment commit today to creating a new National Wildlife Area to preserve them for future generations?” he asked.

The Harper Conservatives began downloading ownership and responsibility for the grasslands to the provinces in 2014. The Government of Saskatchewan continues to lease this land to ranchers, but at higher rates and with fewer support services. As a result, many ranchers are reconsidering the value of leasing the lands. And in turn the Province is now considering selling the lands, which would take away any ecological protection.

“Ranchers are finding the new provincial leases too onerous both in costs and in lack of services,” Regina-Lewvan MP Erin Weir said. “We must protect the integrity of these grasslands while helping support small ranchers who depend on them.”

Both Weir and Stetski were disappointed in the Environment Minister’s response.

“The Minister said she was committed to working on the issue, but 15 months into the Liberal mandate, we’ve still seen no action,” Stetski said.

“The clock is ticking,“ Weir said. “If we want to keep these pastures, we must act now.”