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Enviro groups declare victory after court rules against Federal ministries

By Contributor
February 17th, 2014

Environmental groups are claiming victory after the Federal Court ruled that the Minister of Environment and Minister of Fisheries and Oceans acted unlawfully in delaying for several years the production of recovery strategies for four at-risk species threatened by industrial development, including the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline and tanker route.
“We’re pleased that the Court has agreed that it’s unacceptable for the federal government to continue to miss the mandatory deadlines set out in the Species at Risk Act,” said Sean Nixon, Ecojustice staff lawyer.

“That said, it is disappointing that we had to resort to litigation yet again to force the government to follow its own law.”
Ecojustice lawyers acted on behalf of five environmental groups in this lawsuit: the David Suzuki Foundation, Greenpeace Canada, Sierra Club BC, Wilderness Committee and Wildsight.
“This is a clear decision, not just for the four species at issue in this lawsuit, but for the more than 160 at-risk species in Canada that still await the release of their recovery strategies,” said Scott Wallace, senior research scientist at the David Suzuki Foundation.
The lawsuit challenged the federal government’s multi-year delays in producing recovery strategies for four species — the Pacific Humpback Whale, Nechako White Sturgeon, Marbled Murrelet and Southern Mountain Caribou.

Ecojustice lawyers argued that the federal government’s chronic delays have forced species already struggling to survive to wait even longer for the protection they desperately need.

“It is, moreover, apparent that the delay encountered in these four cases are just the tip of the iceberg,” Justice Anne L. Mactavish wrote in her judgment.

“This is clearly an enormous systemic problems within the relevant Ministries, given the respondents’ acknowledgement that there remain some 167 species at risk for which recovery strategies have not yet been developed.”

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