Today the Liberal government announced that they have adopted an NDP proposal to close a loophole in the Species at Risk Act. In September 2017, Richard Cannings, MP (South Okanagan – West Kootenay) introduced Bill C-363, An Act to amend the Species at Risk Act (amendment of the List) in the House of Commons which proposed closing a loophole that the Canadian government has used for years to delay or deny protection for species deemed to be at risk.
“The Species at Risk Act was designed to provide governments with a transparent and timely process to accept scientific advice on which species require protection. Under the Act, that advice comes from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), and the Minister has 9 months to make a decision—to list or not—after receiving that advice. Unfortunately previous governments found the wording of the Act ambiguous and often chose to ignore those timelines. In fact, the Conservative government made no decisions at all about listing between 2011 and 2015, despite the fact that 82 species were assessed as needing that protection” said Cannings.
Bill C-363 proposed to amend the Act to make it clear that the clock starts when the advice is received, and will give the Minister of Environment and Climate Change a clear deadline to make a decision as to whether or not a species will be added to the lists in the Act. At a meeting of COSEWIC, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna today announced that the government would be enacting Mr.Cannings’ proposal in government policy. “I’m glad the government has seen the merit in my proposal and I want to thank them for working with me to ensure that the Species at Risk act functions as it was intended to all along. “ said Cannings.