February was an important month for protection of the west coast of British Columbia. It was also important with regard to our relationship with the United States and our trade relationship with Europe.
In mid-February the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and Canadian Coast Guard Dominic LeBlanc was in Vancouver to take the first step in our goal of protecting 10 per cent of Canada’s coastline by 2020. Minister LeBlanc announced the establishment of the Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reefs Marine Protected Area to safeguard the globally unique and important aquatic environment that provides vital water filtration, and refuge, habitat and nursery grounds for many aquatic species including rockfish, finfish and shellfish.
Located between Haida Gwaii and the mainland of British Columbia, within the Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area, four unique reefs of large colonies of glass sponges estimated to be 9,000 years old – and once thought to be extinct worldwide – were at serious risk. The glass sponges are highly fragile in nature and take up to several hundreds of years to recover from damage. By working together with Coastal First Nations, the provincial government, industry and conservation organizations, the federal government is providing more effective ocean management and marine conservation.
The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, CPAWS, has been working on this for a very long time, and I would like to recognize Sabine Jessen and her team for their perseverance and collaborative approach. Environmental conservation in and around Howe Sound is a top priority for us. This approach bodes well for the future of Howe Sound.
During the same week, while Minister LeBlanc was in BC announcing the marine protected area as well as investment in additional fisheries science vessels and expanded coast guard capacity, Prime Minister Trudeau met with the President of the United States for the first time. The focus of the meeting was the importance of Canada’s long standing, positive relationship with the U.S. and the integrated nature of our economies. Later that same week, the Prime Minister and Minister of International Trade travelled to Europe to be part of the European Parliament’s ratification of the Canada EU Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).
Environmental conservation, diplomacy and international trade are front and centre in the work I do to represent you in the House of Commons and internationally. I am honoured to serve as your Member of Parliament and as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade.
I welcome your comments and feedback on our government’s work. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or stop by our community office in Horseshoe Bay, 6367 Bruce Street 604-913-2660.