A southern resident killer whale swimming past a school of salmon near the Fraser River in August 2019. (Keith Holmes/Hakai Institute)

COLUMN: We must preserve our biodiversity says Green MLA

Adam Olsen is MLA for Saanich North and the Islands

Living around the Salish Sea, we are all too familiar with the plight of the Southern Resident killer whales.

We remember Tahlequah, the orca who carried her dead calf for nearly three weeks in August 2018. It sent a message that captured global attention. The W̱SÁNEĆ people have a very close relationship with the orca whales.

They have fished the waters of the Georgia Strait alongside one another for generations. Now these magnificent creatures are at risk of extinction and both the Canadian and U.S. governments have listed them as endangered.

The orca is just one of more than 1,800 species at risk of extinction in British Columbia. While our province is the most bio-diverse in the country, we are only one of three provinces that does not have species at risk legislation.

Unfortunately, as we near the end of 2019, we are no closer to stand-alone legislation to protect the endangered species in the province. While the BC NDP government made the commitment to legislate protections for the most vulnerable species after the 2017 election, earlier this Spring they began backtracking.

First, they announced they were pushing it to 2020 but now it is off the table with no clear timeline for introduction. The B.C. Green Caucus believe that government needs to make comprehensive, evidence-based laws that protect species at risk of extinction.

READ ALSO: MLA Adam Olsen pushes for changes to BC Ferries

The evidence is overwhelming, time is running out and unfortunately the BC NDP government has lacked the urgency necessary to provide the much-needed protection.

In Question Period recently, I asked the Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development whether his government intends on expanding the wolf cull in British Columbia. Many caribou herds in our province are nearing extinction. Wolves are the predator of caribou.

However, human intervention on the landscape, primarily through rapacious over-harvesting of forest lands, road-building, and oil and gas exploration, has altered the landscape and created predator highways to give wolves access to caribou they never previously had.

There is evidence that culling wolves can relieve the pressure on the caribou for the short-term. Over the medium and long-term, however, I do not think it’s an effective solution because you have to keep killing wolves until they are all gone.

In his response to me, the Minister put the blame solely on the predator and did not take any responsibility for the alterations to the landscape by his Ministry that created this problem in the first place. Instead of restricting our activities, the province’s plan is to shoot wolves.

Same goes for the question my colleague Sonia Furstenau asked the following day. She queried the same Minister on the endangered white bark pine tree.

Despite its listing as endangered by the federal government, and with more than 40 per cent of the global population in British Columbia, our province has logged 19,000 cubic metres of the species.

READ ALSO: Local Green MLA Adam Olsen has not ruled out running for leader of provincial Greens

Again the Minister deflected. In response to Sonia’s supplemental about endangered species legislation, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy pointed to a process to develop legislation that simply does not exist.

British Columbians are seeing the result in real time with habitat degradation and the collapse of ecosystems. It’s true that the BC NDP inherited a mess.

That is precisely why they are the government, because in 2017 things were a mess. Unfortunately, with respect to endangered species they are knowingly perpetuating the mess.

We must do everything we can to preserve biodiversity. Our children and grandchildren deserve our best effort and, unfortunately on this front, they are getting far less.

Adam Olsen is MLA for Saanich North and the Islands

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Warm ‘blob’ could be behind mass starvation of North Pacific seabirds: Study

Unprecedented death toll raises red flag for North American marine ecosystems

Some 500 people attend Sidney vigil for victims of Iran airplane crash

All 176 passengers, including 57 Canadians, died when Flight PS752 crashed

Six boat wrecks wash up on Cadboro Bay beaches over the weekend

Dead Boat Society working with Oak Bay, Saanich to clear derelict boats

Saanich Police ask for help locating missing high-risk youth

Robyn Coker-Steel has not been in contact with anyone from her home since Dec. 27

VIDEO: Soldiers trade rifles for snow shovels to help dig out St. John’s

A state of emergency is set to extend into a fifth day

Power lines cut as thieves strike Vancouver Island veterinary hospital

‘Thankfully there weren’t any animals or staff in the clinic when this happened’

ICBC to bring in ranking system for collision, glass repair shops

Change comes after the much-maligned auto insurer has faced criticism for sky-high premiums

Surrey’s ‘Pink Palace’ being used for Stephen King horror shoot

New web series based on King’s The Stand novel

‘It was just so fast’: B.C. teen recalls 150-metre fall down Oregon mountain

Surrey’s Gurbaz Singh broke his leg on Mount Hood on Dec. 30

Vancouver Island Pride weekend returns to Mount Washington Alpine Resort

Building on the success of last year’s family-friendly pride festival on Vancouver… Continue reading

Scarlett Point lighthouse keeper wins a million bucks playing the lottery

“I usually just get a quick pick, so I didn’t expect to win a big prize”

B.C. woman crowned the fastest female marathon runner in Canadian history

Malindi Elmore ran an incredible 2:24:50 at the Houston Marathon

Alberta bulldog breeder ordered to refund B.C. buyer over puppy’s behaviour

Tribunal ruled a verbal agreement to send a new dog superseded the written contract

Most Read