Groups Applaud Ontario Government for Introducing Strongest Endangered Species Legislation in Canada

    All political parties urged to ensure Bill passes by summer

    TORONTO, March 20 /CNW/ - Today, Ontario's leading environmental groups
are welcoming the McGuinty Government's introduction of the new Endangered
Species Act in the Legislature. They say that the proposed legislation,
stewardship funding and incentives package presents a win-win solution to
protecting endangered plants and animals while addressing the concerns of
landowners and resource users.
    The introduction of the bill follows extensive public consultation
exercises as well as the report of an Expert Panel. The proposed package of
new legislation and programs is intended to provide effective protection for
Ontario's approximately 200 endangered species and their habitats. Action is
urgent, given that for those plants and animals for which trends are known,
over 75% are either already gone from Ontario or are on their way to
    "We thank Minister Ramsay, Premier McGuinty, and the clear majority of
Ontario residents who support this new legislation. By working together, we
can make sure our natural heritage is protected for all time," says Aaron
Freeman, Policy Director for Environmental Defence.
    "Reform of the old Endangered Species Act of 1971 is long overdue," says
Rachel Plotkin, an Ontario-based Policy Analyst for the David Suzuki
Foundation. "The Environmental Commissioner, Auditor General of Ontario, and
numerous experts have pointed out the weaknesses of the existing legislation
for years."
    The bill has been spearheaded by Minister of Natural Resources, David
Ramsay, with the support of Premier Dalton McGuinty, who promised to address
the weaknesses in the old legislation in the lead-up to the last election.
    "If passed in its current form - and Ontario deserves no less - this will
be the best endangered species law in the country," says Rob Wright, Counsel
for Sierra Legal.
    "The new stewardship fund accompanying the bill will help ensure that the
costs of protecting rare plants and animals do not fall solely on landowners,"
adds Wendy Francis, Director of Conservation and Science for Ontario Nature.
    The environmental groups will be working hard to ensure the Act's passage
before the summer, and are embarking on a radio and TTC advertising campaign
to underline the urgency of doing this.
    "Effective endangered species legislation is the last line of defense for
many plants and animals. It is only necessary because we have failed to ensure
their survival through more proactive measures such as adequate land use
planning before development begins or through socially responsible industrial
management regimes such as the Forest Stewardship Certification for forestry,"
comments Janet Sumner, Executive Director for CPAWS Wildlands League.
"Progressive companies will welcome this legislation."

    About Save Ontario's Species ( S.O.S. is a
collaboration among CPAWS Wildlands League, Environmental Defence, Ontario
Nature, Sierra Legal and the David Suzuki Foundation. ForestEthics and Western
Canada Wilderness Committee also support the S.O.S. Campaign.

For further information:

For further information: or to arrange interviews, please contact:
Jennifer Foulds, Environmental Defence, (416) 323-9521 ext. 232, (647)
280-9521 (cell); Wendy Francis, Ontario Nature, (416) 846-2404; Janet Sumner,
CPAWS Wildlands League, (416) 971-9453, ext. 39; Robert Wright, Sierra Legal,
(416) 368-7533 ext. 31; Rachel Plotkin, David Suzuki Foundation, (613)

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