To the editor;
Andrew Wilkinson’s letter about our government’s steps to preserve vulnerable caribou is an attempt to muddy the waters and avoid his own party’s responsibility for the challenges we face.
To begin with, the need to recover caribou is clear.
In May 2018, the federal government declared that certain Southern Mountain Caribou herds in B.C. were facing imminent threats to their recovery.
In addition, several groups have filed legal petitions demanding action to recover the herds.
The federal government has the power to issue an emergency protection order under section 80 of the Species at Risk Act.
Such an order would only consider the habitat needs of the caribou and not include industrial or recreational interest. Such an order could also cost billions of dollars in economic losses to B.C. Already, the federal government has issued emergency protection orders for sage grouse in Saskatchewan.
We are in this state because the previous government simply failed to put in place a comprehensive strategy to address declining caribou populations in the Peace and the rest of the province. They left a patchwork of options which simply did not address the problem. When we took office in 2017, our government was left to clean up a mess Mr. Wilkinson’s party left.
We chose to try to negotiate a bi-lateral agreement (between B.C. and Canada) to conserve caribou populations. The draft agreement is based on the Province’s draft caribou recovery program which First Nations, the public and stakeholders provided feedback on from April to June 2018.
The draft partnership agreement between B.C., Canada and the West Moberly and Saulteau First Nations resulted from public consultation on an earlier draft agreement during November and December 2017.
The draft partnership agreement will have economic impacts in the northeast, which is why a detailed economic impact analysis is being undertaken with input from communities and local businesses. As part of the draft agreement, we expect the federal government will be providing resources to offset any economic impacts that come from this.
Our government recognizes the importance of our natural resource industries, our wildlife and the value British Columbians place on the great outdoors.
We’ve also been very clear that public engagement is required to inform the final agreements. Misleading comments from the opposition leader that are primarily aimed at distracting from his own party’s failure don’t help British Columbians as they work with us to restore caribou habitat in this province.
Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural
Operations and Rural Development