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Canadian government needs to stand up for species at risk

Photo: flickr/daryl_mitchell

The 2002 Species At Risk Act (SARA) is a commitment made by the Canadian federal government to prevent wildlife species from becoming extinct, all the while taking the necessary precautions to assist in their recovery. There are now more than 500 species listed under this Act and yet only seven action plans have been completed, with less than 190 species even receiving review. The Canadian government needs to be responsible and accountable for its actions.

This national act, by law, is really only mandatorily applicable to aquatic wildlife and species found on federals lands such as national parks. The remaining species, under provincial jurisdiction? Hardly fortunately, the SARA has thought this through by a provision known as the safety net. This safety net allows the federal government to order SARA's protection on species on other lands. This safety net, however, requires the recommendation of the prime minister if, and only if, provincial governments are failing to protect the species/habitats under their jurisdiction. To date, the safety net has never been employed appropriately (if ever).

Our SARA is one of our country's most modern species laws, completely equipped with all the necessary tools to help species survive, recover and thrive but yet, our government's efforts to administer its very own laws have been exemplified by chronic delays. With not a single provincial jurisdiction in the country receiving a mark higher than a C in their efforts to protect endangered species, the federal government undoubtedly needs to do something about the implementation of its own Acts. (This grade given by EcoJustice, a non-profit law firm protecting the environment)

Why should our government be responsible for the administration of the SARA? Because, in short, both the country and the world we live in belong to our grandchildren. We are so privileged to live in a rich ecosystem complete with storehouses of biological resources and wonderful species to admire. These magnificent organisms are dying and we, the destroyers, are the only ones capable of reversing the damage.

We need our government to spearhead conservation activities so that all citizens are fully aware and ready to help in bringing back our wildlife. The Canadian government employed the SARA for a very worthy reason and it is not to be undermined.

Kelly Truong is a Grade 12 Vancouver high school student attending Windermere Secondary.

Photo: flickr/daryl_mitchell

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