Open Letter to Premier: Don’t Gut the Endangered Species Act

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Dear Premier Wynne; 
I am deeply disappointed in your government’s decision to gut Ontario’s Endangered Species Act (ESA). You have failed your first big environmental test.
 
It’s short-sighted and irresponsible for your government to dismantle protections for endangered species when we are experiencing the highest rate of species extinction since the dinosaurs died off.
 
In 2006, the Endangered Species Act Advisory Panel warned: “Given the clear and present dangers that threaten species at risk, exceptions provisions cannot be allowed to become loopholes.” Your decision to grant sweeping exemptions to the ESA threatens our natural heritage and the well-being of our communities.
 
Over 1,000 Green Party supporters agree and have sent letters to your office. Environmental NGOs and community groups are also justly outraged over this decision.
 
On May 16, 2007 all parties voted to support Ontario’s Endangered Species Act. It is wrong for your government to gut the legislation with a Cabinet decision made behind closed doors. 
 
I understand that there may be concerns with the Act’s implementation. In this case, we should improve the implementation rather than undermining the Act and the health of our communities and environment. If cost is an issue with the permit process, the Ministry should update the fees to ensure full cost recovery for administering permits – this was recommended by your government’s own consultant, Don Drummond.
 
Instead of trashing environmental protections, I urge you to adopt innovative solutions to  environmental challenges. For example, the province can address the concerns of farmers by compensating them for providing environmental goods and services. Other provinces and jurisdictions are doing this.
 
We have an incredible province, rich with biodiversity. Our economy relies on our natural heritage, which a Ministry of Natural Resource’s study estimates to provide services valued at $84 billion in southern Ontario alone. It makes sense to protect these assets.
 
Premier, Ontario cannot afford to trash environmental protections. Please do the right thing and reverse Cabinet’s decision to gut the Endangered Species Act.
 
Regards,
 
Mike Schreiner
Leader
Green Party of Ontario
 
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