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Species at risk task force a 'sad joke': Huntington

British Columbia's new species at risk task force is a “sad joke”, independent MLA Vicki Huntington said in a recent interview.

The 10-member panel appears designed to protect industry, not nature, said the representative for Delta South. “It's just a joke and it's a sad, sad joke on the people.”

The panel's mandate, announced by Environment Minister Barry Penner June 10, is to “provide fiscally responsible and economically viable recommendations” on environmental management, private land stewardship and other topics. Panel members include representatives of the B.C. Wildlife Federation and the David Suzuki Foundation, but also the president and CEO of the Mining Association of B.C., Pierre Gratton.

The membership and mandate are a clear indication the panel's unlikely to achieve anything for species at risk, said Huntington. “If you've got a species at risk, you have to protect that species,” she said. “Yes, the economy is vital, but the bottom line isn't the economic value, it has to be the organic value, the Earth value.”

Protecting the environment has to be the top priority, she said, and the economy needs to work around it. “We have to learn to work with the Earth, not manipulate it.”

The Suzuki Foundation, whose CEO Peter Robinson is on the task, put out a news release welcoming the government's announcement but stressing that healthy ecosystems and protecting the diversity of species has to be the priority.

Former Forest Practices Board chair Bruce Fraser is chairing the task force, which is expected to report to a cabinet committee by the end of the year.

B.C. is one of just two provinces lacking legislation to protect endangered species.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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