“Canada opts out on protecting endangered species”

“Canada opts out on protecting endangered species”

December 10, 2014, Toronto Star, by Bob Weber, Canadian Press

Canada has declined to restrict trade on a number of endangered species according to government documents released in the fall of 2014. At the meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in March 2013 in Bangkok, attended by 180 countries, the great majority of countries voted to extend protection to 76 plant and animal species, including soft-shelled turtles and tropical hardwoods, as examples. However, Canada supported only one motion and had reservations against agreeing to the 76 additional motions which could mean that trade in those species will be continuing as normal.

A spokesperson for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Sheryl Fink, referring to this unprecedented position by the government, opined that no other country has ever taken such action, adding that, in her view, there is no explanation for the Canadian government’s stance.

A spokesperson for Environment Canada said the “reservations” are temporary and the protections will eventually come into law. Apparently “ — Canada requires additional time to make the necessary regulatory changes” as is the case for some other countries. However, reference to the text of the Agreement states reservations are “a unilateral statement that (a country) will not be bound by the provisions of the Convention relating to trade in a particular species.” Ms. Fink of the Fund for Animal Welfare noted that previously Canada has been able to produce regulations well within the ninety day grace period permitted under the Treaty. She added that there is no logical explanation for Canada’s position, especially considering that Canada doesn’t even have a commercial interest in many of the species that are the subject of the “reservations”.