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Remarks by The Honourable Peter Kent, P.C., M.P.,
Minister of the Environment

Launch of the Oil Sands Joint Data Portal,

Ottawa, Ontario,
April 22, 2013

Good morning, and I want to take this opportunity to wish all Canadians a Happy Earth Day.

Taking care of our environment is a responsibility we take on every day and each in our own way, whether through school programs, in our work-places or in our homes. But Earth Day is special. It is an opportunity for the entire world to come together and showcase commitments to protecting the environment. And I encourage Canadians everywhere to take the time today to celebrate and highlight Earth Day 2013, by doing their part to bettering the environment in their respective communities.

For me, it is certainly fitting to be here on this very day, with my friend and colleague, Alberta’s Environment and Sustainable Resource Development Minister, the Honourable Diana McQueen, to update you on the progress we have made in delivering on our collective promise to increase environmental monitoring of Canada oil sands resources.

As you know the Harper Government has made a strong commitment to developing Canada’s abundant natural resources while strengthening environmental protection. We have put that commitment to action by strengthening and modernizing the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012, as part of the government's Responsible Resource Development Initiative.

Almost one year ago, I had the pleasure of announcing, with Minister McQueen, the Joint Canada–Alberta Implementation Plan for Oil Sands Monitoring to ensure the environmental integrity of Canada’s oil sands.

With this monitoring plan we committed to a scientifically rigorous, comprehensive, integrated, and transparent environmental monitoring plan to deliver the most scientifically-credible picture of the water, air, land and biodiversity issues in the region.

And now I am pleased to be here again with my Alberta colleague to highlight this important next stage of progress that we are making under our partnership.

Today, we are launching a new online Joint Data Portal for accessing oil sands environmental data.

This Joint Data Portal provides the public with ongoing access to the credible scientific data collected through the Joint Oil Sands Monitoring Plan and the methodology used to produce it.

It gives stakeholders access to the scientifically rigorous data necessary to ensure that this important resource is developed in an environmentally responsible way.

And more importantly, it encourages informed discussions and analysis on the impacts of oil sands development.

This Data Portal follows through on an important commitment made by the Governments of Canada and Alberta to ensure the scientific data from the monitoring activity is transparent and accessible.

This portal represents an important achievement in the progress we have been making in implementing the Joint Canada-Alberta Monitoring Plan. This past year we made efficient use of existing provincial and federal environmental monitoring for air, water, wildlife and biodiversity. At the same time, we expanded monitoring into more places, using it more often and for more substances.

The scope and volume of monitoring data will continue to increase through to 2015, at which time the Joint Plan will be fully in place.

Our success today stems from a continuing partnership between the Governments of Canada and Alberta—one of a shared commitment to transparency, to ensuring the scientific integrity and accessibility of environmental monitoring data, and most importantly, to the environmentally responsible development of Canada’s oil sands.

Last February I pointed out that this rigorous, science-based plan would make Canada’s oil sands monitoring among the best of its kind in the world. Today, we are demonstrating how that is being done.

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