rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Please permit me: Ontario proposes ending permit process for endangered species

This week we launched a campaign to convince the Ontario government to NOT end permitting for projects that impact provincially recognized endangered species (Note: if you haven't sent a letter yet please do so today). Not that we support giving anyone a permit to harass, harm or kill endangered species, it's a defensive measure -- the province is proposing replacing permits with voluntary rules developers would be expected to follow. They say it's a government cost-cutting measure.

In reality, of course, it is a cost-cutting measure for developers looking to avoid proper studies and delays. Permitting is important because every case is unique and the Ministry of Natural Resources must review each application to harass, harm or kill any endangered species as required under the provincial Endangered Species Act.

Admittedly, the permitting process has largely proven to be a rubber stamping process, but it does enable the province to track the cumulative impact of development on endangered species (and hopefully someday control it under the powers of the provincial act).

The new voluntary system would assume rules are observed and all is fine-and-dandy. It will do for endangered species what gutting enforcement of the Highway Traffic Act would do for human safety. The same arguments put forward (e.g. developers can be expected to voluntarily respect laws and government would save money) could also be applied to drivers and the cost of policing. Unfortunately, the ensuing mayhem would be the same.

The point being is this: cuts to endangered species protection cost everyone. It will deprive us of biodiversity and precious natural capital that comes with it. It's dumb, short sighted and cruel.

For the most part we are talking about making it easier to throw-up more condos and subdivisions when we know the urban sprawl model is expensive and unsustainable and that there are better ways to house and employ us.

With more than 60 species in Ontario on the brink of extinction, and every single municipality desperately trying to finance the cost of services and aging infrastructure, isn't it time politicians stopped pandering to the developers who fund their campaigns and drive up the cost of government? Isn't it time to end the days of sweetheart deals for developers?

There is literally a mountain of evidence to support recognizing our natural capital when making economic decisions. Rather than making it easier for developers to ignore our natural capital we need regulations designed to make sure they make good decisions (not just hope they'll do so voluntarily).

The Ontario government has chosen to go backwards instead of forwards. Let's hope public opinion will convince them to reverse course.

Thank you for reading this story...

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all. But media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our only supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help.

If everyone who visits rabble and likes it chipped in a couple of dollars per month, our future would be much more secure and we could do much more: like the things our readers tell us they want to see more of: more staff reporters and more work to complete the upgrade of our website.

We’re asking if you could make a donation, right now, to set rabble on solid footing in 2017.

Make a donation.Become a monthly supporter.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.