After exhausting all other avenues, Ontario Nature has joined forces with Ecojustice and Wildlands League to take the government to court for unlawfully gutting Ontario’s gold standard Endangered Species Act. We simply cannot stand by as the government trades in its gold standard act for fool’s gold.
This spring, the government approved changes that dramatically weaken protection for Ontario’s at-risk species, like Blanding’s turtle, American eel and lakeside daisy. We believe the changes are unlawful. The Endangered Species Act was intended to protect and recover the province’s most imperilled species. Instead the government has exempted a broad suite of industries from the law’s requirements to protect species and their habitats and significantly reduced government oversight of harmful activities.
Forestry wins the jackpot with a five-year blanket exemption. A blanket exemption for an industry that affects over 40 million hectares of land in Ontario! You can imagine what that means for a species like the woodland caribou that has already been pushed out of 50 percent of its historic range in the province.
But forestry is not the only industry that gets off the hook with the new exemptions. Others include mining, pits and quarries, hydro, wind power, subdivision development, road-building and waste management. Across the board, the new regulations protect industries over species, allowing industry to pave, drill, drain and bulldoze crucial habitat with almost zero government oversight.
Ontario’s gold standard Endangered Species Act has been undone, and we intend to set it right. For the sake of the more than 200 at-risk plant and animal species in Ontario and for everyone who believes that the law should be implemented as it was intended; we’re taking the government to court.