Friday, February 14, 2014

Disappointing ... But Unsurprising

In light of the Harper Government(tm)'s ongoing assault on science in this country - especially anything resembling the environment - it comes as little surprise that the government is currently not meeting its own legislated obligations with respect to endangered species.

In a case covering four species that Justice Anne Mactavish calls "the tip of the iceberg," the court found there's a major systemic problem in the two ministries charged with protecting endangered and threatened wildlife. 
The 47-page ruling released Friday states that "public officials are not above the law. If an official acts contrary to a statute, the courts are entitled to so declare." 
At issue was a challenge brought by five environmental organizations, who asked the court to enforce provisions under the Species at Risk Act. 
The groups cited four particular species: the nechako white sturgeon, the pacific humpback whale, the marbled murrelet and the southern mountain woodland caribou.
Frankly this comes as no great surprise.  The Harper Government(tm) has demonstrated repeatedly its disdain for any science which is inconvenient to the dogma of "free markets".  In their view, anyone who advocates for the environment is a "terrorist" of some kind.  
In her judgment, Mactavish pointedly noted that lack of resources for the government departments came up time and again in testimony. 
Yet the Conservative government counsel, she wrote, "advised the court that he had been specifically instructed not to raise a lack of resources as a justification for the delay in posting proposed recovery strategies for the four species." 
Mactavish ruled "there is clearly an enormous systemic problem within the relevant ministries." 
It is this last part of the article that is equally significant when evaluating this situation.  It is not just that the Harper Government(tm) has objectively written a great deal of legislation which has effectively gutted not only Canada's laws to protect the environment, but it has also systematically eviscerated the ability of the responsible departments to do their jobs by mangling their mandates and choking off the funds needed to actually do the job.

By no means am I some "bleeding heart" that believes that all development is evil, or that no pipeline should ever be built.  However, I do believe that the government has obligations to ensure that Canada is a good steward of the lands, resources and lives which reside within its domains.  It is not acceptable that our governing party has spent much of the past several years dismantling the laws and infrastructure solely because they find it inconvenient to their political ideology.

Canada is a land rich in resources and wildlife.  We owe it to ourselves and our descendants to safeguard that wealth.

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