BC Fights Endangered Species Law
Goldberg, Kim, Canadian Dimension
Finally Canada is going to have a federal law protecting endangered species - well, sort of. Bill C-65, the Canada Endangered Species Protection Act, was expected to clear its final reading in the House of Commons in April. But most endangered species residing in Canada, and particularly in British Columbia, better head south if they want any real protection.
The 24-year-old US Endangered Species Act protects all endangered species and their habitats, whether on federal, state or private lands. The Canadian bill will only protect animals living on federal lands, as well as aquatic species and certain migratory birds. Less than five percent of the land of Canada's provinces is federally controlled, and in BC, just 1.1 per cent.
So did the BC government, which spares no taxpayer expense to convince voters and foreign pulp buyers that it is greener than a rainforest, buff its vert veneer by joining with conservationists everywhere to demand a stronger bill? No. BC's NDP government lined up behind logging and mining companies and the corporate-sponsored Wise Use movement to gut-kick this runty law for being too tough on development.
In March, a list of 32 industry, business and Wise Use front groups took out a full-page ad in the Vancouver Sun protesting the bill and telling the Prime Minister not to "put BC businesses, workers and communities on the endangered species list." The plea might have been more convincing if it hadn't come from the Vancouver Board of Trade, Business Council of BC, Council of Forest Industries, Mining Association of BC and such noted Wise Use front groups as Share BC and Canadian Women in Timber. The toll-free 800 number at the bottom of the ad is answered "Forest Alliance of BC" - the ultimate Wise Use front group hatched in 1991 by PR giant Burson Marsteller at the $1 million behest of BC's major logging companies.
The day after the ad appeared, provincial forests minister David Zirnhelt told the Sun the proposed act would give courts too much power to shut down development. …