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Here is the letter which Megan Leslie sent the Speaker of the House prior to the speech she tabled on September 26 after Question Period and the presentation of petitions:

Dear Mr. Speaker:

I am writing to you to give notice under Standing Order 52(2) that I will be seeking leave on Wednesday, September 26, 2012 to propose an emergency debate on the dramatic loss of ice in the Arctic this summer, which reached the lowest levels recorded in recent history, a level significantly below the previous recent low recorded in 2007.

Scientists around the planet have voiced their concern since the reports of the dramatic melting of arctic ice this summer were made public in recent days. They describe the degree of melt as having reached an emergency level, with ice levels at 50 percent of the averages that were recorded between 1979 and 2000. In fact, some scientists are predicting that, based on this latest data, the arctic will be ice-free during the summer months within the next decade.

This troubling trend has been linked directly to man-made climate change, a fact admitted by the Environment Minister last week.

Warming arctic waters will affect the globe’s weather patterns, leading to more extreme weather, including flooding, heat waves and drought. It is important to note that less arctic ice means that the uncovered arctic waters will warm exponentially faster from the sun’s rays, melting more ice and raising water levels to disastrous results.  

While arctic melt has been a topic of discussion for many years now, the recent marked acceleration of the melt this summer makes it an urgent and pressing national policy issue, particularly given that Canada will take over as chair of the Arctic Council in 2013. Canadians, through their elected representatives, must be given the opportunity to discuss the crucial next steps.

Therefore, an emergency debate is required in order to allow parliamentarians to address the significant domestic and international consequences of the significant arctic melt, including, but not limited to, arctic sovereignty, national security, arctic fisheries and ecosystems, resource development, and the rights of indigenous peoples.

Arctic temperature rise is an urgent cause for concern for northern residents who rely on the sea ice for hunting and survival, and on frozen ground for overland transport of food and the necessities of life for much of the year. If this trend continues, it will have profound effects which require an emergency plan.

This government has stated the north is a priority; the safety and security of its people must be considered by parliamentarians.

Mr. Speaker, this matter simply cannot wait. The consequences of the warming cycle and melting of arctic ice will be numerous and it behoves parliamentarians to have an immediate and in-depth discussion about prevention, mitigation and adaptation.

I thank you for your careful consideration of this application.


Megan Leslie, MP for Halifax

Environment Critic for the Official Opposition