When a leading environmental group resigns in protest from a government panel working on changes to Ontario’s Endangered Species Act, it’s clear that the woodland caribou and Blanding’s turtles are getting the short end of the stick.
Concerns from the Wildlands League were confirmed last week when the Ministry of Natural Resources posted amendments to the act that was once considered the gold standard in North American species protection.
By now it’s obvious that Ontario’s pledge to save dozens of creatures on their last legs was merely a faux-green promise, as the ministry deals with funding cuts and industry demands. As Wildlands executive director Janet Sumner succinctly states, “Even a great law can be castrated.”
Environmentalists are right to be angry. They lost a hard-fought battle, but must continue to fight on behalf of dying species — even if it involves the legal action that some are contemplating. Unless Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government has a rapid change of heart, a battle in the courtroom may be the only option.
It’s a long shot, but worth the effort. After all, the original 2007 act was touted by the Liberals and environmentalists as leading-edge legislation that created a strong buffer between industry and at-risk wildlife. It demanded companies “improve” the circumstances of declining species. But now, the sweeping changes will require many industries — including forestry, exploratory mining, renewable energy and hydro — merely to “minimize” their harm to those deemed at-risk. That’s a far cry from the original protections. More....