New Democrats demand action on endangered species from Premier Clark

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VICTORIA—New Democrat environment critic Rob Fleming is calling on Premier Clark to end a decade of inaction by her B.C. Liberal government by supporting the New Democrats ‘Species at Risk Protection Act’ he is introducing to the legislature today.

“New Democrats are again introducing legislation to protect species at risk of extinction and B.C.’s globally significant biodiversity because year after year the B.C. Liberals promise to take action and then do nothing,” said Fleming. “If Premier Clark wants British Columbians to believe she isn't just more of the same, she should end the decade of inaction and support the Species at Risk Protection Act.”

The bill is primarily aimed at ensuring endangered species are identified, listed and their habitats protected to ensure their continuing survival.

“Climate change is already impacting our province and has emerged as the biggest threat to biodiversity we face. That is why it is particularly shameful that B.C. lags so far behind other jurisdictions in protecting endangered species and their habitat,” said Fleming. British Columbia and Alberta are the only two provinces in Canada that still lack stand-alone legislation to protect species at risk and their habitat.

The New Democrats' “Species At Risk Protection Act” would promote stewardship activities to assist in the protection and recovery of species that are at risk.

“Protecting species in B.C. is critical to maintaining the biodiversity of Canada. Our province is home to 76 per cent of Canada's bird species, 70 per cent of freshwater fish species, and 60 per cent of conifer species. Our bill would help prevent the permanent loss of more species and help recover vulnerable ecosystems identified for conservation like estuaries, wetlands and temperate forests,” said Fleming.

According to the B.C. government's own data, 1,900 species of plants and animals in our province are in decline and may be lost to our province forever, yet very few have recovery strategies in place.

“The UN declared 2010 the international year of biodiversity and the BC Liberals again failed to introduce legislative tools to identify and create recovery plans for species teetering on extinction in B.C.,” said Fleming. “The false promises of past Throne Speeches have worn completely thin over a decade. I challenge Premier Clark to prove she represents change by supporting species at risk legislation modelled on other provinces and our bill.”

Introduction of the bill to the legislature is being welcomed by environmental organizations such as the David Suzuki Foundation.

Adrian Dix and the New Democrats have proposed an environmental plan that would reinvest carbon tax revenue in transit and climate change initiatives, create green jobs, and offer legislated protection for species at risk.