MP Eglinski Calls for Action on Alberta Pine Beetle Infestation
October 27, 2017
OTTAWA: On October 26th, Jim Eglinski, Member of Parliament for Yellowhead, raised a question in the House during Adjournment Proceedings. He once again called on the federal government to assist Alberta in the fight against the mountain pine beetle infestation.
“Mr. Speaker, companies like Weyerhaeuser, Millar Western, and West Fraser, which are lumber companies in my riding, spent millions of dollars trying to combat the pine beetle as it slowly crept in from the park.
“We tried to work with the park for the last two years. We have had meetings. I have held meetings and round table discussions. We had park officials, CFS officials, as well as representatives of Alberta forestry attend. Parks Canada continually told us it was going to try to cull the trees and do some burns within Jasper National Park. I was just there a few weeks ago and nothing had been done yet.”
MP Eglinski also expressed concern for the increased risk of wildfire in the Park due to the deadfall left behind from the pine beetle.
“Jasper Park has turned brown from one end to the other. The trees are dead or dying. The people who work in Jasper Park, lodge owners, and townspeople fear for the safety of their community because of the dead pine trees all around the town of Jasper,” he stated. “There are roads that are maybe 25 feet wide with high and dead pine trees near some of the lodges. If a fire started, people would not be able to get out of there.”
Currently, Parks Canada’s management of the mountain pine beetle is “ecosystem-based management”. Parks Canada policy directs that native insects and diseases, including the pine beetle, are natural ecological processes that should be allowed to proceed without interference if possible. This has resulted in hundreds of thousands of trees being killed and the rapid spread of the beetle from British Columbia into Alberta.
In her response, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources acknowledged that the situation has become “troubling”. She said Parks Canada is monitoring both beetle expansion and other forest-health related risks in the national Rocky Mountain Parks, but she neglected to expand on any meaningful measures to control the beetle.
“Now is the time to combat the influx of the bugs. We have to get rid of them, either by burning or cutting the trees. We need help. The province of Alberta cannot do this on its own,” concluded MP Eglinski.
To read the debate, visit the corresponding day’s Hansard at the House Publications page: www.ourcommons.ca/en.