A great way to get involved in this year’s election is to engage with your candidates! Though it may seem intimidating at first, you don’t have to be a subject matter expert to speak up and ask questions about the issues that matter to you.
In fact, most candidates aren’t subject matter experts either! The election season is an opportunity for them to learn more about the issues voters care about. Alberta’s 2023 Election is right around the corner (May 29th – have you registered to vote yet?).
There are going to be lots of opportunities for you to talk with the candidates in your electoral district, whether that’s through door knocking, attending campaign events, or submitting feedback for online campaigns – so be prepared to ask the questions that you want the answers to before you cast your ballot.
Now is the time to find out where the people who want to represent you in the legislature stand on issues like the protection of nature, forestry, species-at-risk recovery and sustainable industrial resource extraction. Below, we’ve compiled a ‘starter set’ of questions for you to consider posing, so that you can be informed and prepared to vote for nature.
Coal in Alberta
Current Alberta direction on coal exploration and development relies heavily on the 1976 Coal Policy and long-overdue land-use planning, which creates uncertainty about the extent to which the Rocky Mountains will remain protected. It also leaves large areas open to new coal developments in our province. Time and again, Albertans have expressed their strong opposition to coal development in our Eastern Slopes.
What will you do to permanently protect communities, wildlife, and our headwaters from coal exploration and development?
Protected Areas Targets
85% of Albertans support the province contributing to the international protection targets of 30% of protected land and water by 2030. There is considerable scientific evidence that, if met, these protection targets could halt and even reverse biodiversity loss (which is largely due to habitat loss and fragmentation associated with population growth, urbanization and industrial activities).
Do you and your party support increasing protected areas in Alberta to halt and reverse biodiversity loss, support species at risk recovery, and provide Albertans with more parks for the enjoyment of nature?
Under your party’s government, what would conservation targets to protect nature look like in Alberta?
While topics like land-use planning and land management don’t always get the press they deserve, there’s a strong relationship between these processes and ecological integrity, access to nature, and the quality and quantity of Albertans’ recreational opportunities. This is perhaps especially true when it comes to industrial activities on public land.
How will your party improve land use management planning processes to address the cumulative impacts of human use on Alberta’s diverse ecosystems?
How will you make these processes more accountable and transparent, so that Albertans have the opportunity to provide input on proposed activities that directly affect their quality of life, livelihoods, and access to recreation opportunities?
Indigenous Peoples have acted as stewards of the environment since time immemorial in Alberta. Elevation of Indigenous-led conservation is a critical component of meaningful reconciliation – and it’s also essential to the successful management and protection of areas rich in biodiversity, as is increasingly demonstrated by research. (You can learn more about Indigenous-led conservation here.)
How will you and your party support Indigenous-led conservation initiatives?
Will your party protect areas that have been identified as priority areas for protection by Indigenous communities and work towards true co-governance of those areas?
Species at Risk
Many of Alberta’s native species are in steep decline. Native trout, caribou, and bison are facing rapid habitat loss and fragmentation, as well as increased pressure from anthropogenic activity and development. These species need connected, protected habitat for population recovery.
How will you prioritize necessary habitat protections over competing interests to recover species that are at-risk and in-decline in Alberta?
The protection of nature is a proven way to take climate action, and stem biodiversity loss. Parks play an essential role in the protection of our natural landscapes and for human well-being. Unfortunately, the former Ministry of Environment and Parks has seen numerous, concerning structural changes over the past few years, so much so that it is now split into two different ministries.
How will your party ensure that Alberta’s parks are managed for the protection of nature as a first priority, while also ensuring equitable access to recreational opportunities for Albertans?
To learn more about the issues discussed in this Question Guide, check out our Vote for Nature landing page.
And, if you want to hear directly from each party on issues related to the environment, be sure to tune into our Environmental Issues Election Forum hosted by the Alberta Wilderness Association, Nature Alberta, and CPAWS Southern and Northern Alberta chapters on May 11!