Put Away the Party Hats: New Wildlife Law Already Being Watered Down

As Parliament gears up to review Canada’s 5-year old Species at Risk Act, Ontario’s own wildlife protection law, the Endangered Species Act, came into force this week. When this act was passed a year ago, it was hailed as a victory for species and their habitats because of the law’s strong habitat protection focus and mandatory science-based listing of species at risk. For some Ontario species though, this legislation comes too late. And much of the early promise of this legislation is fading – yesterday the Ontario government approved more than two dozen exemptions to the act that will exempt forestry, aggregate extraction, hydro, and other development from the law.

Meanwhile, Canada’s federal law has not lived up to its promise. Its 5-year anniversary is not much of a celebration: listing and recovery deadlines are routinely missed, adequate critical habitat protection is rarely extended, and the federal government refuses to use the act’s emergency and safety net powers to protect species in provinces where they are losing ground.