OTTAWA - The Harper Conservatives are continuing to step up its war against environmental regulations by attacking the habitat provisions of the Fisheries Act. “The Fisheries Act is the cornerstone of federal environmental policy and it is about to be gutted,” said Green Leader Elizabeth May (Saanich-Gulf Islands).
“There is a definite pattern emerging—first the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and now the Fisheries Act. Whatever restraints may exist for industry to go full steam ahead on whatever project they want are now being systematically dismantled,” said May.
“All month, I have been presenting petitions in the House of Commons from citizens who are asking that Conservative ministers cease and desist from acting as promoters of the so-called Northern Gateway pipeline, what I now refer to as the great pipeline of China. The Harper Conservatives are now not only acting as a public relations arm of the oil industry, but they are clearing the way of any annoying obstacles like environmental legislation to protect our waterways. It is a farce,” said May.
The proposed Northern Gateway pipeline would affect hundreds of rivers and streams with a real impact on fish habitat. Currently, the Fisheries Act bans the "harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat." If the Harper Conservatives get their way, all references to habitat will be removed and only fish of economic, cultural or ecological value would be eligible for protection.
“It is another example where science is out the window for the discretion of this government to decide what fish is important. Obviously all fish have ecological value,” said May.
“The Fisheries Act's habitat section is what makes it the strongest piece of legislation we have in Canada. Removing this section would be a death blow," she said.