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

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

Just Posted

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

The City of Victoria is hoping to ring in the summer by celebrating local art and offering some distanced, live music to surprise people in parks, plazas and other public spaces. (Photo courtesy of the City of Victoria)
Live, pop-up concerts and local art being showcased in Victoria this summer

People will see surprise serenades at 16 locations throughout the summer

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

Jada Benwell and Connor Larkey are the valedictorians of the 2021 graduating class at Parkland Secondary School. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Pandemic taught lessons in perseverance for North Saanich high schoolers

Parkland Secondary School to release 2021 grad ceremony video on June 25

The 14th annual Oak Bay Young Exceptional Star (YES) awards June 3. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Oak Bay celebrates its Young Exceptional Stars with outdoor award ceremony

Nine young people recognized in 14th annual awards

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read