Liberals sell out endangered species

Queen’s Park – The Liberals sold out endangered species behind closed doors earlier this year says Green Party of Ontario leader Mike Schreiner.
Schreiner slammed the Liberal cabinet for gutting the Endangered Species Act. Broad industrial exemptions now allow companies to kill, harm or harass endangered species like the woodland caribou and barn swallows.
“The Wynne Liberals made a short-sighted and irresponsible decision to sell out protections for species at risk to the highest bidder,” says Schreiner. “We should all be concerned that once again the Liberals have put corporate interests before the public good. The opposition parties at Queen’s Park should be ashamed for not holding the government accountable on this issue.”
In a closed door Cabinet decision in June, the Liberals broke their own legislation and gutted protections for endangered species and their habitat. The Endangered Species Act was designed to protect endangered plants and animals. The Cabinet approved changes include a five-year exemption for the forestry sector and sweeping exemptions for pits and quarries, renewable energy, hydro, mining, infrastructure development, waste management, and commercial and residential development. The changes also dramatically reduce government oversight of activities affecting Ontario’s lakes, rivers, forests and wildlife.
“The rules are already stacked against community groups fighting to protect natural heritage,” says Schreiner. “Now the Liberals have muzzled public input by removing protections for endangered species from public comment on the Environmental Registry. It is appalling that the Liberals are once again putting private interests ahead of good public policy. We can’t let them bulldoze over our children’s future.”
Instead of trashing the environment to balance the budget, the Green Party is calling on Cabinet to reverse their decision to gut the Endangered Species Act. The Green Party agrees with the Drummond Report: user fees should pay for environmental protection. User fees are fair and economical, and they discourage wasteful use of precious natural resources. 
The Green Party is also calling on the government to support paying farmers and landowners for environmental good and services that benefit everyone. “Instead of destroying species or regulating farmers out of business, Ontario should recognize the economic value of environmental goods and services,” says Schreiner. “Once again, other provinces and countries are way ahead of us in protecting what we value most.”

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