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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MONTREAL, March 6 2011--A candidate for the Board of Directors of Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) appealed to the cooperative's three million members today, asking for a stronger environmental conservation mandate and greater autonomy from industry.
"MEC's membership gave it an overwhelming mandate to conserve wilderness," MEC board candidate Dru Oja Jay. "If it's going to take that mandate seriously, the co-op needs to reconsider its ties to ecologically destructive corporations like Suncor and Tembec."
MEC has signed on to the "Boreal Forest Conservation Framework," which was created through a collaborative process with tar sands operators Suncor and Nexen, and several logging companies.
The stated goal of the Boreal Forest Conservation Framework is to protect "at least 50 per cent of Canada's boreal forest."
"But the effect of collaboration with industry," says Jay, "is to keep environmental groups from directly confronting the biggest sources of destruction in Canada's boreal forest: tar sands strip-mining and logging."
MEC gives over $2 million annually to conservation groups. A principle recipient of these grants is the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS). The organization is also a partner in The Big Wild, MEC's marquee conservation advocacy project.
CPAWS is also working in partnership with tar sands operators Suncor and Nexen, as well as a handful of major logging companies, through its participation in the Boreal Leadership Council and the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement.
"Everything CPAWS does has to be understood in the context of the agreements it has signed with industry," said Jay. "You can't expect a group that's partnered with Suncor to be able to accurately assess what the most strategic areas to protect in the boreal forest are. They're biased against their own mandate at that point."
Jay says that agreements that groups like CPAWS and MEC sign with industry make targets like "protecting 50 per cent of the boreal forest" meaningless.
"You're going to end up protecting the 50 per cent that industry doesn't want," said Jay.
"In the context of global climate change, which scientists say could lead to ecological collapse, that could be seen as a crime."
If elected, Jay promises to initiate a process to critically evaluate MEC's conservation strategies and its approach to destructive industries.
MEC members have until March 30 to elect three new board members. Jay's candidacy has been endorsed by author Naomi Klein and social justice groups in Halifax, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, among others.
For more information: http://mec.dru.ca
Dru Oja Jay, MEC Board Candidate in 2011
e: candidate_jay [at] mec.ca