Canada is envied around the world for its natural beauty and people look to our country for environmental leadership and vision. Yet, our federal government does so little to protect it. If we want Canada's future to include wilderness and wildlife, we must plan for that vision, wisely and carefully.
In 1992, amid international accolades and much acclaim, Canada became the first western industrialized nation to ratify the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. On ratification of that treaty, Canada pledged to provide "effective protection" for Canadian species at risk and the critical habitat and ecosystems on which they depend. Ten years passed, and despite repeated promises to the Canadian public, overwhelming public support, and several failed attempts Canada was still without legal protection for its 415 species at risk.
Finally in 2003, just over a decade later, Canada enacted - the Species at Risk Act (SARA). Unfortunately for Canadians and Canada's hundreds of species at risk, the act is a paper tiger, reliant on political will, discretionary wording and largely unenforceable habitat provisions.