A keystone of the Ecology Action Centre's Standing Tall campaign has been to open up public consultations around the Natural Resources strategy: we want the government to listen to all Nova Scotians with an interest in the health of our forests. We've emphasized that the very best route would be to use Voluntary Planning, a provincial policy forum that carried out the ATV consultations in 2004.
Why are we so concerned about how the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources will manage these consultations? Because NS DNR's track record on public consultation is terrible. Nova Scotians remember the game sanctuary delisting controversy. Or the ATV debate. Or the IRM consultations. Or the development of the existing Forest Strategy in the mid-1990s. Or any one of the other issues on which the Department has asked for public opinion -- and then ignored it.
Standing Tall needs your help -- now!
During the election campaign, the Nova Scotia Environment Network asked Premier Rodney Macdonald, on behalf of the Conservative Party, "If elected, will your government commit to ensuring that these consultations are conducted by a third party and are truly inclusive of the Nova Scotia public, being conducted in communities across the Province and open to everyone who wishes to participate?"
Premier Macdonald responded:
Yes, a Progressive Conservative government will continue our commitment to ensuring that public consultations are conducted by a third-party and are inclusive of the Nova Scotia public, being conducted in communities across the Province and open to everyone who wishes to participate.
Voluntary Planning is a citizens' policy forum that operates arm's length to the provincial government. Our mandate is to engage non-governmental volunteers and citizens in policy discussions important to the future of Nova Scotia. Members participate on task forces, project teams and sector committees representing many aspects of the economy and society. Policy advice and recommendations go forward through our Board of Directors to the Premier and Executive Council via the Minister of Treasury and Policy Board.
In carrying out their work, members and staff adhere to an approach and guiding principles that are based on Voluntary Planning's extensive public policy experience.
To this end, Voluntary Planning strives to include all Nova Scotians geographically, sectorally and socially; and to operate in the service of government's policy needs but at arms' length from government. Finally, the process is transparent so that it is fair, and is perceived to be fair, in representing the views of citizens. Further information on the Voluntary Planning mission and its principles can be found on
The Department of Natural Resources is still refusing to commit to using Voluntary Planning. We've written the Premier and the Minister of Natural Resources highlighting this promise, and we'll be meeting with the Minister soon.
But we also need your help.
Please, call or email the Premier and the Minister ASAP, and tell them you want Voluntary Planning tasked right away with the Natural Resources Strategy consultations. They've promised. Let's hold them to it.
Premier Rodney Macdonald
Toll-free Message Line: 1-800-267-1993
The Hon. David Morse
Minister of Natural Resources
If you send an email, it helps to cc: it to your local MLA, if you're living in Nova Scotia. If you don't know their email address, check the alphabetical list of MLAs and click on your member's name. Their email address, if available, will be on the next web page.
Thanks. And please -- feel free to sign up to Standing Tall's Forest Alert! email list!