Today in the legislature I reintroduced a private member’s bill entitled Bill M208 — Endangered Species Act, 2017. This Act builds off the Ontario Endangered Species Act and the B.C. version of their legislation tabled by the BC NDP in 2011. My office was grateful to work with the late Gwen Barlee from the Wilderness Committee and environmental lawyer Sean Nixon from EcoJustice to close loopholes and make the bill more proactive and preventative. We also incorporated language from the United States Federal Endangered Species Act to make it more effective and comprehensive. Of note is the addition of a section that mirrors the US Endangered Species Committee.
Below I reproduce the text and video of the speech I gave as I introduced the bill. I also include the accompanying media release.
I move that a bill intituled Endangered Species Act, 2017, of which notice has been given in my name on the order paper, be introduced and read a first time now.
As the 23rd conference of parties to the United Nations framework convention on climate change meets in Bonn, Germany, I’m reminded that the world is in the midst of the sixth great global extinction event and that this time humans are the driving force. British Columbia is the most bio-diverse province in Canada, but it is also home to more at-risk species than any other province. Half of British Columbia’s assessed species are deemed at risk.
In addition to identifying, protecting and rehabilitating at-risk wildlife populations and habitats, this act seeks to introduce proactive measures that will prevent healthy species from declining in the first place. This act builds off the Ontario Endangered Species Act, the B.C. version of their legislation, tabled by the B.C. NDP in 2011 and the American federal Endangered Species Act.
Under the guidance of lawyers and advocates, who have worked tirelessly on this issue, in particular the late Gwen Barlee, who I will forever be indebted to for her assistance on this, we were able to close a number of problematic loopholes and make this act more proactive, transparent and effective than the aforementioned acts.
Of note is the addition of a section that changes how exemptions are made. Instead of being left to the discretion of the minister, under this section, if the government or industry want to take actions that will result in a species going extinct, it is required to go through an independent, publicly disclosed board review.
Mr. Speaker: The question is first reading of the bill.
A. Weaver: I now move that the bill be placed on the orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.
Bill 17, Endangered Species Act, 2017, introduced, read a first time and ordered to be placed on orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.
Weaver introduces bill to protect B.C.’s endangered species
For immediate release
November 6, 2017
VICTORIA, B.C. – Andrew Weaver, leader of the B.C. Green Party, reintroduced his Private Member’s Bill, the Endangered Species Act, 2017. Weaver first introduced the bill in February 2017 under the previous B.C. Liberal government. The Act builds off similar legislation introduced in Ontario and tabled by the B.C. NDP in 2011, and was further developed with the input of Gwen Barlee from the Wilderness Committee and environmental lawyer Sean Nixon from EcoJustice.
“I am re-introducing this bill to ensure that this issue stays at the top of the government’s priorities,” said Weaver.
“It is time British Columbia joined the vast majority of Canadian provinces and introduce its own made-in-BC legislation to protect our province’s endangered species. This legislation was developed in consultation with some of our province’s leading experts on this subject, including the late Gwen Barlee, to whom i will be ever grateful for her assistance and commitment to this cause. This legislation contains a number of ways to close problematic loopholes, as well as to incorporate some of the best ideas from other jurisdictions, which I urge the government to include when it introduces its own endangered species legislation as promised next year.
“The world is in the midst of an extinction crisis, and humans are the driving force. British Columbia is the most biodiverse province in Canada, but it is also the home to more at-risk species than any other province. Half of British Columbia’s assessed species are deemed at risk.
“British Columbians know we cannot put a price on the value this unparalleled biodiversity provides. We owe it to future generations to ensure that we are doing all we can to protect species at risk of extinction.”
In addition to the provisions of the Ontario Act and the legislation tabled by the BC NDP in 2011, Weaver’s bill incorporates language from the United State Federal Endangered Species Act to make it more effective, proactive, preventative and comprehensive. Of note is the addition of a section that mirrors the US Endangered Species Committee, a committee of cabinet-level members who have the sole authority to issue exemptions to the Endangered Species Act.
Jillian Oliver, Press Secretary
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