Cablegate: Canadian Invasive Species Plan Due Soon, Usg And

Published: Wed 6 Aug 2003 04:04 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Canadian Invasive Species Plan due soon, USG and
GoC need to meet now
Ref: (A) Ottawa 00481 Notal
Summary and Action Request
1. Officials of Environment Canada and the Department of
Fisheries and Oceans expect a public rollout of a draft
framework for managing Alien Invasive Species in autumn
2003. There may not be much meat on the bones of the draft
strategy, and a year of consultations and further drafting
will be required before the framework takes its final form.
On the other hand, existing law and regulation does provide
significant scope for action and the GoC intends to focus on
achieving near-term results within the existing statutory
and funding framework. These GoC interlocutors have set a
high priority on establishing a shared "binational" set of
priorities for dealing with Alien Invasive Species and would
like to meet with American counterparts very soon (perhaps
as early as late August), to begin to establish a strategy
that will work for both governments. Post strongly supports
this initiative and recommends that Washington agencies
enter into a more intensive dialogue as soon as possible.
Beginning that dialogue now will allow the U.S. to influence
development of the Canadian draft framework and lay a
foundation for more detailed work once pending legislation
in the U.S has been adopted. End Summary and Action
2. The GoC made a pledge in 1992, when it signed the United
Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), to prevent
and/or control Alien Invasive Species. The problem,
however, according to the Commissioner of Environment and
Sustainable Development (part of the GoC Auditor General's
organization), is that this commitment (and the 1995
Canadian Biodiversity Strategy it precipitated) have not
triggered any concrete action. In an October 2002 report,
the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable
Development characterized federal government efforts to deal
with the Alien Invasive Species (AIS) issue as being in
disarray, with "no clear understanding of who will do what
to respond" and noting that "no federal department sees the
big picture or has overarching authority to ensure that
federal priorities are established and action taken."
Nevertheless, Canada indicated in its second national report
to the CBD in 2002, that "federal, provincial and
territorial governments have agreed that the development of
a Canadian strategy to address alien invasive species is a
national priority."
3. Embassy ESTH Counselor, ESTH Specialist and Intern met
with representatives from Environment Canada and the
Department of Fisheries and Oceans on July 30th to discuss
progress in the Canadian effort to develop a national
strategy, to discuss the extent of bilateral cooperation on
AIS and to elicit GoC views on how to foster further
integration of Canada-U.S. efforts, including their views of
a potential reference to the IJC.
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EC and DFO Officials acknowledge slow start - but plan is
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4. Emboffs met Robert Mclean, Acting Director General,
Conservation Strategies Directorate, Environment Canada
along with George Enei, Director, Conservation Priorities
and Planning Branch, and Mark Hovorka, Scientific Advisor in
that Branch. Sylvain Paradis, Director of the DFO
Environmental Science Group, represented the Department of
Fisheries and Oceans.
5. McLean, who led the discussion for the Canadian side,
acknowledged the long lag between the commitment made in the
CBD and mid-September 2003 when a targeted action plan, the
"National Invasive Species Management and Policy Framework"
as it is tentatively referred to, will be outlined for
federal, provincial and territorial ministers. McLean
anticipates that the Framework will be unveiled in a public
rollout as a "White Paper" (i.e., draft public policy) in
autumn 2003 shortly after the briefing to ministers. This
will be followed by a period of seeking stakeholder and
broad public comment and a final, official, Policy Framework
in place around autumn 2004.
6. McLean underscored that although the Framework is still
under construction, the priorities contained in the nascent
plan reflect the views of the provincial, territorial and
federal ministers responsible for the environment, for
forests and for fisheries. Obtaining consensus for the
priorities was facilitated by the fact that the provincial
and federal ministers in each of the three domains meet
annually in Coordinating Councils, and since 2001 the three
Councils have held a joint meeting on biodiversity. The one
major set of ministries that has been missing from the joint
meetings on biodiversity has been Agriculture. McLean did
not elaborate on why the Agriculture ministries were not
part of that process (there is indeed a Joint federal-
provincial Council of Ministers of Agriculture who clearly
could have participated in the biodiversity meetings), but
indicated they are a major player that needs to be engaged
in the national framework process. Even at this late stage,
however, there is much work still to be done. For example,
it is not clear to GoC officials, what form the political
governance structure will take, it may or may not emulate
the U.S. National Invasive Species Council.
7. In this same vein, the GoC has not yet done an
assessment on the need for new statutory instruments.
McLean noted that there are a number of existing statutes
and regulations, both federal and provincial that can be
employed to address the AIS threat (to be reported septel).
Moreover, he contends that in order to demonstrate to the
senior political and bureaucratic leaders in the Prime
Minister's Office and Privy Council Office that the
objectives of the Invasive Species Framework are credible
and "deliverable" it will be imperative that GoC agencies
make progress employing the existing mandates and agency
programs to address high profile invasive species problems
(such as Asian Carp) in the near term.
8. McLean also noted that in addition to the ministerial
level engagement, federal-provincial working level groups
are engaged in the development of the plan. Given the
division of powers in Canada between the federal and
provincial orders of government (to be reported septel),
Mclean highlighted the high degree of challenge in producing
a coordinated set of actions with respect to AIS. As just
one example, provinces are responsible for management of
fish stocks whereas the federal government has jurisdiction
in regulating and managing fish habitat. Thus banning
possession of live Asian Carp (an emerging federal
objective) will require enacting provincial law and
9. Our GoC interlocutors emphasized that the message from
the provinces is that the federal government should focus on
policies for prevention rather than dealing with remediation
and already established AIS. For many established invasive
pest species (excluding perhaps Sea Lampreys in the Great
Lakes, for which a comprehensive plan and funding has been
in place for decades) our GoC interlocutors noted that there
is no clear road ahead and that it will probably be the
provinces that have to lead this effort. Comment: The
provinces will, however, be looking to the federal
government to help fund their efforts at remediation. End
10. McLean commented that if GoC agencies can produce
tangible success in the near-term on AIS, the issue is well-
situated to gain a higher profile in the GoC as a new Prime
Minister takes over the government in February 2004, perhaps
even earlier. And an election is widely expected in the
spring. Comment: It can be safely assumed that there will
be many competing priorities for the attention, and the
budget, of the new government. Without a formal policy
statement of the priorities of Paul Martin, widely
anticipated to be the next PM, it is difficult to judge
whether McLean's hope is justified. Indeed, a review of
Martin's public statements over the past year has not
revealed any reference to Alien Invasive Species. End
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Bilateral cooperation requires much greater coordination
--------------------------------------------- -----------
11. McLean noted that there has been long-standing
bilateral cooperation on AIS, for example with respect to
the Sea Lamprey problem in the Great lakes, and more
generally, on AIS important to agriculture and forestry.
But cooperation has typically been ad hoc, species and
project specific, agency-to-agency and regional in focus
rather than as a coordinated overall approach guided by a
shared bilateral set of priorities. McLean and Enei noted
the desire of the EC Assistant Deputy Minister (Karen Brown)
responsible for AIS that those senior officials responsible
for AIS policy should meet very soon to begin working on a
set of shared bi-national priorities. The outcomes of this
meeting (or series of meetings) could feed into our
bilateral consultations on a reference to the IJC, should
the U.S and Canadian governments deem that mandate
12. With respect to the expected IJC reference, GoC
officials emphasize that clear and tangible goals for the
IJC effort are required. In their opinion "new money" for
the IJC effort will not be allocated from the Treasury,
rather an IJC effort will likely be funded from existing
departmental budgets. Without a clear, tangible and "value-
added" goal, GoC agencies will resist ponying up the cash.
13. Mclean agreed with ESTH Counselor's suggestion that it
would be beneficial to have a catalogue/inventory of
existing collaborative efforts on AIS, but the GoC
representatives admitted that they have not compiled any
such inventory. They indicated it is something they intend
to construct, but gave no timeline. Comment: Post strongly
believes that an inventory of areas in which the two
governments already collaborate would be very valuable and
would appreciate receiving such information if it already
exists with Washington agencies. End comment.
IJC Views provide their comment of GoC effort
14. ESTH staff sought the views of the International Joint
Commission to provide an assessment of developments in
Canada. James Houston, Environmental Advisor at the Ottawa
office of the International Joint Commission (IJC) told
Emboffs that political awareness of the Invasive Species
issue has grown markedly in the past 18 to 24 months; he
pointed to the role that Canadian IJC Co-Chair Herb Gray has
played since coming to the IJC in January 2002 to champion
GoC engagement in addressing the problem. Houston
reiterated that the key problem in Canada has been lack of
accountability. Over the past decade GoC ministries have
simply passed the buck on AIS, he emphasized that a critical
component therefore of any new framework is to have a strong
governance system. Houston pointed to the management
structure described by the New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy
of February 2000 as an example of what might work, but he
noted that Chairman Gray is an advocate of the American NISC
governance model.
Comment and Action requests
15. The key message provided by our GoC interlocutors is
that they view it as essential for USG and GoC senior
officials responsible for AIS to meet very soon to begin
crafting a shared set of priorities. More generally a
bilateral meeting will also help our GoC interlocutors to
flesh out the draft Framework and give us a chance to
influence its development. The Autumn 2003 timeline for
unveiling the draft Framework (as a policy White Paper) to
the public for input and comment may well be met, but it
remains to be seen how substantive it may actually be.
According to McLean (1) the federal and provincial
agriculture ministries have not been engaged in the
development of the draft plan; (2) no assessment has yet
been done to determine whether any new statutory instruments
are required; and (3) the governance structure to oversee
the implementation of the plan, a critical element, is still
undetermined. Our GoC interlocutors did not explicitly
state this, but one presumes they believe that the public
consultation process and final drafting scheduled for the
period Autumn 2003 to Autumn 2004 will fill in these
16. ACTION REQUEST: We understand that McLean or Enei
expects very soon to arrange with Lori Williams, Executive
Director of the National Invasive Species Council setting a
meeting of GoC and USG policy officials with AIS
responsibilities. We understand that the target date for
the meeting is late August or early September. Post would
appreciate details of the meeting agenda and USG
participants once those are available. The embassy intends
to be fully engaged on this issue and wishes to contribute
to the bilateral effort. In that vein, we believe that an
inventory of collaboration between U.S and Canada Ian
agencies would be useful and request that the department
provide such information if it is available.
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