Ottawa ‘fails to protect’ fish habitat in Fraser River
I looked at this issue back in October. Today’s story in the Vancouver Sun shows that not only were salmon destroyed but the risk of flooding – used by the the proponents to justify their activities – was not reduced at all.
The report by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development on behalf of the auditor-general finds that Fisheries and Oceans Canada “cannot demonstrate” that fish habitat is being adequately protected.
This is no surprise. Of course, the Auditor General’s writ only runs to the federal government so the government of BC does not get a mention. But it is is intimately involved in this affair – as it has been with the equally disgraceful fish farm policy.
This is the same BC government that slashed the budget for the environment ministry, reduced the numbers of staff dedicated to environmental protection but managed to get some environmentalists on its side because of its dedication to run of the river hydro. They also like to point to the “extensive environmental studies” whenever anyone has the temerity to question the impact of their favourite mega-projects. Yes there were studies done, but the outcome was never in doubt. The studies can either be skewed – or simply ignored. And again this blog has documented both.
The sad truth is that under right wing governments in both Victoria and Ottawa our environment has taken second place to the wish to promote business profit. The ideology is that somehow which is never really explained (and cannot be demonstrated in practice) if businesses can make lots of money this is good for all of us. The loss of irreplaceable habitats and the destruction of ecological systems is ignored or discounted: since GDP is increasing we must all be better off. This of course ignores the impacts we can see all around us on our declining health, increasing poverty and other social problems. The growing disparity between the undertaxed rich and the overcharged poor is also ignored. Bizarrely, those who bothered to vote justify their choice by saying that the BC Liberals are a “safe pair of hands” for the economy when even that is easy to show is not true. They were simply fortunate to be in power during the years of economic growth – which collapsed due to the very policies which had encouraged it. A house of cards – or a ponzi scheme – both accurate analogies of what was happening. But the voters want more of this apparently.
Ian Matheson, director-general of habitat management for federal fisheries, said in an interview last week from Ottawa that his department accepts the report’s findings and is committed to a three-year action plan to rectify the department’s shortcomings, with regular updates to the office of Commissioner Scott Vaughan.
Well I wish him luck with that. I cannot see that he will be getting any support from his political masters. Especially if, in order to do the job properly, he needs to spend more or recruit more people: especially if those people need to be well qualified and prepared to stick to their guns when undermined by their bosses.