Dear future Prime Minister

Here's how to solve our most urgent environmental problems

The Issue
Biodiversity

Our Advice
"This Land Is Their Land, Too"

What Government Should Do
Habitat loss and degradation are the main reasons for the decline of 85 percent of the country’s species at risk. So protecting threatened animals like the boreal woodland caribou—so entwined with Canadian culture that it’s the tails side of our quarters—means protecting the boreal forest, the antlered creature’s hangout of choice.

At the federal level, the major tool for protecting endangered species is the Species at Risk Act (SARA), passed into law in 2002. But the government hasn’t exactly been setting any speed records to implement it. In an appropriate metaphor for Ottawa’s pace, of the 449 species listed, the only one that’s actually benefited is the slow-moving Banff Springs snail. And those snails are lucky—they live entirely within a national park. “We’re doing a terrible job, I regret to say,” says Rachel Plotkin, biodiversity policy analyst for the David Suzuki Foundation. And it’s not just a problem of failing to protect animals already recognized as in danger: For example, “Polar bears are a species of international significance, and the majority live in Canada. So we have a global responsibility to protect them. But the government hasn’t yet listed the polar bear under the SARA, even though the independent scientific body that makes the recommendations is saying it should be,” says Plotkin.

For most of these creatures, a few years’ delay can make a huge difference. A wise, green-friendly PM would move the act’s implementation from slow-motion to fast-forward.

What Voters Can Do
It’s been said a hundred times before, but it’s true that our daily choices impact wildlife species. So if you’re buying toilet paper that isn’t made of recycled fibre, more often than not, it’s coming from the boreal forest. And let your leaders know that you really care about protecting Canada’s biodiversity. The David Suzuki Foundation makes it easy: A page on its website shows you how to make a stink, from contacting politicians to creating a community action tool kit for grassroots activism.