By Cat DiStasio
Canada has chosen to reject an agreement to protect 76 endangered plant and animal species from international trade. Documents recently released from the 2013 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) show that Canada is the first nation to opt out of the proposed protections.
At CITES, delegates from 180 countries voted to add 76 plant and animal species to the endangered species list. This means that, ideally, all 180 countries would enact their own domestic legislation to protect the newly-added endangered species from international trade. The CITES agreement first began in 1973 and no country has ever opted out of the agreement.
Canada, however, has elected to be the only one of the 180 nations to reject the terms of the treaty. According to statements by Environment Canada spokesman Danny Kingberry, the objections to the protections are “technical” and not substantive. Essentially, Canada has argued that they will not have enough time in order to create legislation to bolster the proposed protections. In previous years, Canada has not had any trouble amending legislation for protections within the given 90-day grace period.
Canada does not trade in any of the 76 endangered species in question, so many are baffled about why this particular list is such a problem. The Canadian government committed last August to updating their wild animal and plant trade regulations, but no action has been taken on that either, according to Sheryl Fink of the International Fund for Animal Welfare. She and other critics can’t think of a reason for Canada’s unprecedented lack of movement.