May 29, 2015
By Michael Kramer
Changes have been upheld to Ontario’s Endangered Species Act.
The Liberal government changed the endangered species regulation in 2013 – to exempt some industries such as forestry, oil and gas, and mining from a prohibition against harming at-risk species – or destroying their habitats.
The Ontario Nature and Wildlands League argued in Divisional Court – that the exemptions remove the law’s core protections – for almost all of Ontario’s 155 endangered and threatened species.
Wynne government lawyers argued that exemptions can only apply – when a proponent meets a number of onerous conditions.
The court upheld the regulation and said it balances protecting at- risk species with the economics of the industries that operate under the Endangered Species Act.
The environmental groups say the act is intended to put species first, “not to let their survival be balanced against competing industrial interests.”