Ottawa needs to step up for endangered species
Three in five Canadians believe that the federal government is doing too little to protect endangered wildlife.
The news is no surprise to Ecojustice. Earlier this fall we released Failure to Protect, a report that examined how well laws at the provincial, territorial and federal levels protect the most vulnerable of Canada’s plants and animals. Our research found that even though the federal government has the legal tools to help endangered wildlife survive and recover, chronic delays and poor implementation of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) are undermining conservation efforts.
We concluded that the federal government has both the responsibility and the opportunity to lead efforts to protect Canada’s endangered wildlife. Today’s poll shows that Canadians agree with that assessment. The majority of Canadians (52 per cent) polled said they also believe the federal government should bear primary responsibility for protecting species at risk.
Unfortunately, the federal government has, for the most part, failed to step up to the plate. It has delayed completion of recovery strategies — required by law — for 188 at-risk species; these strategies play a critical role in identifying the habitat wildlife need to recover. To date, the only effective way to ensure the federal government follows its own endangered species law has been to take matters before the court.
That’s why Ecojustice is taking the federal government back to court, this time over its continued failure to implement SARA and fulfill its legal responsibility to protect animals that live along the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline and shipping route.
The case for protecting wildlife is a simple one. When plants and animals thrive, so does the environment. And when the environment thrives, it provides the air, water and land people and economies need to thrive.
Will Amos is the director of the Ecojustice Clinic at the University of Ottawa.
Photo credit: John E. Marriott