By Dianne Saxe
Ecojustice, Ontario Nature and the Wildlands League have launched a lawsuit against the Ontario government protesting a lengthy set of exemptions given to businesses under Regulation 242/08 of the Endangered Species Act. The industries that received exemptions include agriculture, forestry, energy transmission, housing, oil and gas pipelines, mineral exploration, mine development, transit and wastewater management companies.�
For example, bobolinks and meadowlarks are musical birds in terrible trouble, precisely because of the frequent destruction of their habitat by agriculture. Haying times that are best for farmers are often the times most destructive for bobolinks and meadowlarks. Since July 1, 2013, farmers have been freely permitted to kill, harm or harass these birds, and to destroy their habitat, in the course of any agricultural operation. Good news for farmers, I presume; very bad news for meadowlarks and bobolinks. To win this legal challenge, Ecojustice will have to persuade the courts that governments cannot make policy decisions, for political and economic reasons, that increase the danger to endangered species that they said they would protect. Is this the type of decision that courts will prevent politicians from making? �And if so, should they?
The Ontario government presumably decided to weaken the Endangered Species Act in order to increase its chances of surviving the next election. It is already facing substantial anger in many rural areas over the Green Energy Act. If Tim Hudak's Conservatives were to win the next election, they are certainly no friends of the Endangered Species Act; what would happen to the Act and its regulations then?
This lawsuit is an honourable attempts by good people to do the right thing against long odds, and to stand against the long slide of environmental destruction. I admire them, and I support them. But would judges make better decisions on these types of public interest and policy questions than governments?
Here is Ecojustice's press release: More....