Just a day after the federal Environment Commissioner released his scathing report on the Harper government’s record on biodiversity, Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner, Gord Miller, released similar findings about the Ontario government. The Ontario government passed a world-leading law to protect endangered species in 2007, but has systematically undermined its own law since then, essentially gutting protections according to Green Party leader, Mike Schreiner. This is especially troubling considering Ontario has more species-at-risk than any other province in Canada.
The Environmental Commissioner agrees, citing the granting of broad exemptions which allow industry to come up with their own plans without getting approval from the Ministry of Natural Resources. Essentially, the Endangered Species Act still stands, but many companies – such as forestry companies – don’t actually have to get permits for activities that will harm species-at-risk. The granting of exemptions has also prompted environmental groups Wildlands League and Ontario Nature to file a lawsuit against the Minister of Natural Resources, David Orazietti.
Now the survival of many species-at-risk in Ontario, including the threatened woodland caribou, is at the whim of resource extraction companies. Greenpeace is working to protect the woodland caribou in Endangered Forests in Ontario, such as the Trout Lake-Caribou Endangered Forest in northwestern Ontario. Logging practices by companies like Resolute Forest Products is seriously jeopardizing the survival of the species here, and the Ontario government has turned a blind eye.