Toronto – Greenpeace and Earthroots, held a funeral procession today outside a closed government consultation session to mourn the McGuinty government’s continued failure to stop the countdown to extinction of Ontario’s threatened woodland caribou herds.
“We held our procession to mourn caribou because Premier McGuinty promised in 2007 to protect woodland caribou and since then he’s done nothing tangible to keep his promise,” said Catharine Grant, Greenpeace Forest Campaigner. “Today marks another nail in the coffin for caribou in this province.”
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The closed-door meeting at the Metro Convention Centre was set up to rubber stamp approval of a proposal to exempt industries from protecting caribou habitat under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The meeting was hosted by the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) which has proposed the exemption, If adopted, the proposal would allow industries to by-pass the requirements of the ESA to protect pristine habitat of threatened woodland caribou. MNR will hold closed sessions in four other communities.
The funeral procession was led by a Grim Reaper followed by mourners carrying alife-size coffin with the symbolic remains of Ontario’s last caribou inside. The procession made its way down Front St. to the Convention Centre where a eulogy was read outside the closed consultation meeting.
Greenpeace and Earthroots were not invited to attend the meeting, but presented MNR with more than 2,300 condolence cards, signed by concerned Ontario citizens, asking the McGuinty government to fulfill its promise to protect caribou.
“We are very concerned that the government’s consultation sessions are not open to the public,” said Amber Ellis, Executive Director of Earthroots. “We, along with thousands of Ontarians, are sending our condolences to the threatened caribou as the McGuinty government moves forward with breaking its promise to this iconic Canadian species.”
Both key environmental organizations, including Greenpeace, and major logging companies are working to prevent the extinction of caribou and build a stronger forest industry that will sustain communities through their collaborative efforts under the historic Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement. Advice on caribou protection has been provided to the McGuinty government.but is not reflected in its draft caribou conservation policy.
During the run up to the provincial election in October, the Greenpeace “Caribou Caravan” is touring the province to rally public support to stop the extinction clock counting down the end of caribou. The Caribou Caravan has stopped in the ridings of leading cabinet ministers, including Thunder Bay, Brampton, Ottawa, Kitchener-Waterloo and Toronto.
“Solutions exist to protect both caribou and the prosperity of the forestry sector we just need to see political will from Premier McGuinty to chose a solution and keep his promise,” said Grant.