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Canadians call emergency discussion on Arctic sea ice loss

CBC NewsEye on the Arctic

In Ottawa on Wednesday, two members of Canada's opposition New Democratic Party made a bid for an emergency debate in Canada's House of Commons on Arctic sea ice loss.

According to the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Centre, sea-ice cover in the Arctic Ocean reached an all-time low this summer since satellites began measuring ice cover 33 years ago.

Halifax Member of Parliament Meghan Leslie, the NDP's environment critic, made the first request.

"This is not just an environmental issue, it touches all aspects of our society," she said. She said that includes things like national security, agriculture and natural resources, and it's urgent for MPs to sit down and figure out how to deal with the situation.

Commons procedure says an emergency debate topic must be an immediate concern that cannot otherwise be brought before the House in a timely manner, and should be of concern throughout the nation.

House Speaker Andrew Scheer made an immediate decision on Leslie's request.

"While I am sure it's an important issue for her, I don't think it meets the test for an emergency debate," he said.

But Scheer did say the House may have time to discuss the issue in the coming weeks.

Western Arctic Member of Parliament Dennis Bevington asked a second time for an emergency debate on the issue, saying the sea ice loss contributes to extreme weather, crop failures and rising food prices and that Canada faces civil unrest if it does not address the problem.

"For these reasons, the House must immediately debate how Canada will deal with the increasing Arctic sea ice melt and the disastrous effect it is having on our weather systems, agriculture and economy," he said.

Scheer again replied the issue didn't meet the parameters for an emergency debate.

This story is posted on Alaska Dispatch as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.