The Species at Risk Act (SARA) is already a very weak act; no need to make it weaker. SARA only applies to federal lands, NOT provincial lands. Provincial land account for the vast majority of the Canadian land mass; federal lands are limited to waterways, national parks, and not much else. This will limit the negative effects that come from the weakening of this bill, but could also lower the standards for provincial species at risk legislation (which lag behind SARA).
The draft policy document from Environment Canada suggests federal officials want to water down the Species at Risk Act in order to allow government regulators to factor in “socio-economic” concerns — such as forestry, oilsands exploration and residential construction — when they identify critical habitat areas that require protection.
Environmentalists warn that the new proposal, if adopted, could poison scientific evaluations of what species need for survival in order to accommodate economic needs.
“Basically they’re cutting corners in the law inappropriately,” said Stephen Hazell, acting executive director of the Sierra Club of Canada.
“If we care as a nation about our wildlife, we can’t allow that to happen. If our only value is ensuring good profits in the forest industry, then we will lose the woodland caribou in Alberta.” –The Ottawa Citizen
If we care about biodiversity (and we should even though the general public may not understand what it is) then we need to save even those organisms that may get in the way of economic growth. After all most endangered organisms are at risk BECAUSE of economic growth.
Unfortunately this may be nothing new. The Cultus lake Sockeye Salmon population in BC was supposed to be declared endangered, but due to fears of impacts to the economy and fisheries, the Cultus Lake Sockeye were kept off the endangered species list.
The Cultus Lake sockeye salmon is an anadromous fish—that is, a fish that lives part of its life in freshwater before migrating to the sea. In the past 12 years, numbers of successfully spawning Cultus Lake sockeye have declined by 92 percent. Status: Not listed under SARA. Designated endangered by COSEWIC. –DFO
So despite a decline of 92% in the past 12 years, the Cultus Lake Sockeye are not protected under SARA. The COSEWIC designation of ‘endangered’ provides the fish NO legal protection; only SARA can do that.
Please note that this is NOT a problem limited to the Conservatives; the Liberals were just as bad in this regard, so please don’t turn this into a partisan issue.