While Queen's Park begins the New Year on an extended pro-rogue holiday, it has not stopped the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources from quietly proposing to sneak through a new loophole under the province's Endangered Species Act big enough to drive a feller-buncher, bulldozer and dump truck through.
Right now, the Act sets a high national standard for species protection, primarily because it mandates that companies that intend to develop lands or extract resources must apply for permits that leave the species better off than where it started.
Unfortunately, last month the Ministry quietly put out a notice that they would like to give themselves new powers to exempt both existing and new activities from going through the bother of meeting requirements under the Act, and give power to industry to self-police.
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These exempted activities could include logging, mining, quarries, hydroelectric dams, transmission lines, windmills, roads, infrastructure and municipal developments, to name a few.
Of course, all of this is buried in a submission on the Environmental Bill of Rights and cloaked in legalese and vague government-speak, along with various other proposed tweaks to the Act.
Well, this just isn't right. There might be need for exemptions in special circumstances. But exemptions should be the exception, not the rule.
Please join me in telling the province that these proposed exemptions should be rejected and ensure that we continue to do all that we can to ensure our most threatened species are able to survive.
For more information, check out this great primer in the Toronto Star or read the submission by the David Suzuki Foundation's species expert, Rachel Plotkin.