Tuesday, October 18th, 2016 - CPAWS and Yukon Conservation Society hosted a 2-hour All-Party Election Forum on the Environment at the Beringia Centre in Whitehorse in lead up to the Territorial Election November 7th. Representatives were John Streicker for the Liberals, Liz Hanson for the NDP, Danny Macdonald for the Yukon Party, and Kristina Calhoun for the Green Party.
Discussion at the event focused on ATV trail management, land use planning, particularly in the Peel Watershed region, wildlife conservation, mining regulations, wetland policy, Yukon parks, achieving climate change targets, and food security planning. The full video of the forum can be viewed below and the parties' responses to a survey of the major issues submitted by CPAWS and Yukon Conservation Society can be viewed here - http://www.cpawsyukon.org/campaigns/election.
The Arctic Institute of Community-Based Research (AICBR) submitted a question to the representatives to raise the issue of food security and the full question and responses can be found below.
Question to the Candidates:
"We can't talk about environment and climate change without talking about food security. Food insecurity in the North is both an outcome of a changing climate but food security planning can also be a solution to ensuring a safe, healthy environment for the future. Good food policy is good economic policy, good agriculture policy, good health policy and good environmental policy. Our food system is one of the major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions – so food security is fundamentally linked to countering the clock on climate change.
What are some of the policies that your party is proposing that will contribute to ensuring we have a safe, sustainable, nutritious, affordable food system for the future?"
Summaries of Responses:
Kristina Calhoun, Green Party: The Green Party has a good understanding of food security as a holistic issue. They have 2-pages devoted to food security and food sovereignty in their policy book and urge the public to go read it. In their policies they want to see integration of food growing, preparation, and canning right in the school curriculum – so that children know how to get their food (from the land), how to prepare it, and how to have cold storage of meats throughout the winter; they want that knowledge to withstand through to adulthood and for Yukoners to have self-sufficiency, so that we do not rely on bringing essentials up from the South. The Green Party recognizes that we have many valuable people working on food security in the territory and they believe that it is possible to get our food locally; we just need governments to recognize local agriculture and teach people how to effectively use this knowledge, mainly how to have food last through the winter and how to best manage wildlife populations so we can eat wild game without depleting resources.
John Streicker, Liberals: The Liberals recognize that food security planning is a key opportunity to improve the economy and look after the planet. The Liberals want to build local food production and agriculture as a means to diversify the economy. They want to focus on building infrastructure to support greenhouses in all communities throughout Yukon, look to strengthen food storage and food processing options and support sustainable local food gathering and food production. They recognize that these are they ways in which we adapt to climate change, mitigate climate change effects and diversify the economy all at once. In their platform they have identified using community-based greenhouses as education tools and they will look to the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in Teaching and Working Farm (TH Farm) as a model for expansion to the rest of the territory.
Liz Hanson, NDP: Liz Hanson started out by acknowledging the work that AICBR has done, recognizing it as important and that she has seen the results in communities across the territory. The NDP platform has key elements to support the local agriculture industry, which is acknowledged as part of building a more resilient economy. Similar to the Liberals, the NDP recognize the TH Farm as a promising model of how the territory can begin to reinstate old knowledge and skills that people relied on in the past. The NDP wish to bring that back that knowledge and those skills in every community so that we can build our food system with our local economy, food security and the local knowledge already present in the North as a foundation and not be dependent on fly-in-fly out models. The party wishes to bring back Northern models – like storage facilities; they highlight that our territory has built our food system to function like the South and that that does not work for a Northern context. The NDP want a food system that puts more control at the local level instead.
Danny Macdonald, Yukon Party: Danny referred to the present government's recently developed Local Food Strategy as the roadmap for an elected Yukon Party; included in the strategy are short-, medium- and long-term goals to build on local agriculture, expand opportunities for sale, and cultivate more traditional activities for hunting and harvesting. The strategy is available online and Macdonald encouraged all to go and read it.
The video of the forum is included below and the responses to the above question can be watched starting at 1:48:50.