Canadian Groups Win At-Risk Species Protection Case
The Canadian Federal Court ruled today that two Cabinet ministers acted unlawfully in delaying for several years the production of recovery strategies for four at-risk species threatened by industrial development, including the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline and tanker route.
Brought by five environmental groups – the David Suzuki Foundation, Greenpeace Canada, Sierra Club BC, Wilderness Committee and Wildsight – the lawsuit challenged the federal government’s multi-year delays in producing recovery strategies for species listed under the Species at Risk Act of 2002.
Lawyers for the nonprofit law firm Ecojustice represented the five groups in court. They argued that the federal government’s chronic delays have forced species already struggling to survive to wait even longer for the protection they need.
Justice Anne Mactavish declared that the Minister of Environment and Minister of Fisheries and Oceans “did not comply with the statutory timelines for the preparation and publication of recovery strategies” for the four species at issue in this lawsuit: the Pacific humpback whale, the Nechako white sturgeon, the Marbled murrelet and the Southern mountain caribou.
Justice Mactavish wrote, “To state the obvious, the Species at Risk Act was enacted because some wildlife species in Canada are at risk. As the applicants note, many are in a race against the clock as increased pressure is put on their critical habitat, and their ultimate survival may be at stake…”
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