Sunday April 20, 2014

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Harper agenda short-sighted


Harper agenda short-sighted


I am so tired of reading letters from John Weston justifying his government’s attack on the environment. Week after week he uses local newspapers to convince us that gutting the Fisheries Act, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and the Species at Risk Act are necessary to prop up the economy, the logic being that we need to destroy fish habitat for a few years, until the economy improves.

The Fisheries Act is the principal federal statute that manages Canadian fisheries resources. Much of the Act is aimed at regulating fishing, but it also protects the habitat fish need to reproduce, grow and survive. Any biologist can tell you that protecting fish without protecting their habitats makes no scientific sense. Science is not high on the Conservative agenda, and Weston’s role in this seems to be one of damage control and trying to brighten the story.

Unfortunately, there is no bright side to this story. The Conservatives have weakened fish habitat protection and have largely abdicated their responsibility for habitat management. In Bill C-38, the government has made strategic changes to the habitat provisions of the Fisheries Act in an apparent attempt to delegate fish habitat protection and pollution prevention and fisheries management to the provinces/territories.

The fishing industry in Canada is a significant source of jobs and a major contributor to the economy. But fish are more than this. They provide our families with food and recreation and tourism dollars across Canada and are integral to First Nation communities. They have cultural and spiritual significance, with some species like salmon and herring becoming iconic in this land.

So, John Weston, maybe you should be spending less time trying to convince us that black is white, and more time reflecting on your complicity with the short-sighted agenda of the Harper government.

Jacquie Shelemey, Gibsons



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