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Languishing species report earns tongue lashing from NDP

Jun 02. 11

By Rob Shaw, Victoria Times Colonist

The task force, made up of scientists, academics and environmental groups, was struck last year to look at whether changes to legislation are needed to protect endangered animals and ecosystems in B.C.

The creation of the group was promised by government in its 2009 throne speech.

The task force submitted its report to Environment Minister Terry Lake in January, but government has never disclosed the recommendations and would not release the report publicly Wednesday.

"I don't know what their recommendations were, nobody does," said Fleming. "It's been sitting collecting dust for six months.

Lake was not available for comment Wednesday.

"Government is now examining the report in detail and giving it the fulsome review that it deserves," he said during his ministry's budget debate earlier this month.

"I can say at this point that it will be considered fully by government."

Lake said he hopes to release information from the task force "in the relatively near future," but offered Fleming no timeline for such a move.

"There was no explanation for the delay that was satisfactory, and no explanation for the amount of secrecy that has shrouded this report," said Fleming.

Fleming introduced his own endangered species private member's bill Wednesday, saying New Democrats want to act on the issue while B.C. Liberals continue to do nothing.

It is the second time he has introduced a bill on the topic, but his initiatives have never been supported by government.

His latest bill is almost assured to fail because the B.C. legislature adjourns Thursday for its summer break.

Fleming's bill aims to identify and list endangered species and protect their habits to ensure their survival.

Environmental groups the Sierra Club of B.C., the Wilderness Committee Ecojustice, Conservation Northwest and the David Suzuki Foundation expressed support for the NDP bill Wednesday, saying B.C. has 1,900 plants and animals declining or at risk of disappearing.

B.C. and Alberta are the only provinces without standalone species at risk laws, said Fleming.

original story published in Victoria Times Colonist  


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