Federal Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield says policies
now in place "inhibit activities of Canadian landowners."
Photograph by: Chris Wattie, Reuters , Calgary Herald
NOTE: This Calgary Herald article (below) did not include several sentences attributed to Elizabeth May from the original Canada.com article. She mentions hunters and anglers may have some ‘sway’ with the Harper government, so we think her words are worth repeating here:
May said most Canadians are unaware of the importance of the Fisheries Act's habitat section.
"It is the strongest piece of legislation we have, full stop," she said.
"It's an old law but it's the cornerstone of environmental law and policy in this country, and federal engagement in a wide range of projects and proposals which otherwise would be considered exclusively provincial.
"This is why this is a death blow. I mean, this is absolutely disastrous."
Ashfield, according to internal documents obtained by Postmedia News through the Access to Information Act, was advised last year that the habitat section is a significant "irritant" for industry groups in Canada.
There has been an aggressive lobbying campaign in Ottawa, with major corporations and industry groups facing off against environmentalist lobbyers.
May said reports that the change may be included in omnibus legislation following the March 29 budget mean there's only a brief window to stop the move.
She said Harper will only listen to Conservative-oriented Canadians such as hunters and anglers, and has shown he won't drop legislation once it's been tabled in the House of Commons.
"Stopping it before it goes into the House is pretty critical and that will take people who have sway with Stephen Harper," she said.
"I'm not one of those people and neither are environmental groups, but if enough Canadians realize this is the cornerstone for protecting the environment perhaps we can get it changed."
Tories 'looking at' Fisheries Act changes
By Peter O'Neil,
March 15, 2012
Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield indicated Wednesday that changes are coming to the federal Fisheries Act.
The federal government was blasted by British Columbia New Democrat and Liberal MPs, who accused the Conservatives of trying to "gut" what Green party Leader Elizabeth May calls the "cornerstone" of federal environment policy.
MPs said it's part of a broader plan by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to pave the way for Enbridge Inc.'s proposed Northern Gateway oilsands pipeline to the B.C. coast, since that pipeline would cross hundreds of rivers and streams.