By Martin Melbourne
What does Canada’s federal government have against endangered species?
A lot, apparently, as the Stephen Harper Tories seem intent on making sure Canada continues to trade in them.
A Canadian Press report reveals that at last year’s meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), 180 nations voted to expand protection to 76 animals and plants.
Canada was not one of them.
In fact, Canada’s delegate actually filed “reservations” against all those motions, meaning Canadian trade in those species can go on unimpeded.
Canada even opposed protections for creatures that are not even native to our shores.
“It doesn’t make sense to me why they’re putting a reservation on the manatee — it’s not even a Canadian species. I don’t really know what gives here,” New Democrat environment critic Megan Leslie told the Canadian Press.
Canada’s stance may have surprised overseas observers — a spokesperson for the International Fund for Animal Welfare said it was unprecedented — but it won’t surprise Canadians. After all, this is the pro ‘law and order’ government that essentially ignored a court order to reconsider its refusal to protect at-risk woodland caribou herds threatened by oil sands development.
Twice, the environment ministry, then headed by Peter Kent, was taken to court by environmental groups intent on protecting critical habitat for caribou.
You have to admire the Harper government’s consistency on environmental issues, though.
Our nation’s lack of concern over the world’s endangered species is completely in line with our inaction on climate control and our continued commitment to dirty oil.
Environment Canada budget cuts — tucked away in another omnibus bill — will further erode wildlife and water programs, ecosystem sustainability and enforcement.
Given his track record, Harper’s recent declaration that “it would be crazy economic policy” to regulate carbon emissions while oil prices are low was completely predictable.
It’s clear the prime minister is gambling that Canadians care only about the economy. At some point in 2015, that assumption will be put to the test.