Category Archives: Blog

Bears Matter Thanksgiving Message to Premier Horgan re: Moratorium on Grizzly Hunt accross BC

ndppressconfnov23rd

October 07, 2017

Dear Honourable Premier Horgan,

I want to sincerely wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving celebration especially as our new Premier.

We, British Columbians, are so fortunate and have so much to be thankful for. We can never take for granted the natural treasures and abundance that makes our province so special.

Premier Horgan, many of us voted for you to ensure that our beautiful natural lands are properly protected for future generations. On that note there is one area of contention that brings your government’s commitment to responsible stewardship into question; your mis-guided, pre-election promise that calls for an old law to be brought back that would force the packing out of meat of a hunted grizzly.

Unfortunately just because you make a law doesn’t mean that it will end the non-meat hunting of Grizzlies. If this were the case we would all be behind you!

Please rescind this promise immediately and enact a moratorium on all hunting of grizzly bears across BC. This one simple, logical step would send a powerful message to the world that BC is taking back control from those that wish to exploit it’s treasures.

Please read our Open Letter, Mr. Premier, signed by 38 leaders in grizzly conservation and understand we mostly support your leadership except on this issue we need you to see it in the light of day for what it is. There is no real ‘grizzly meat’ hunt by ethical hunters and never will be even if you make it a law. If your government continues to buy into the political maneuvering by the prohunter groups then your leadership will be tainted throughout your reign. Please pause, rethink and show the courage and leadership that will make us proud! Our Grizzlies’ future are depending on you and so are we!

Most sincerely,
Barb Murray
Bears Matter
Nanoose Bay via  North Van via Whistler via  Prince George

cc  Premier@gov.bc.ca , FLNR.Minister@gov.bc.ca , ENV.Minister@gov.bc.ca, ABR.Minister@gov.ca, Gord.Johns@ndp.ca, Andrew.Weaver.MLA@leg.bc.ca , Adam.Olsen.MLA@leg.bc.ca , Sonia.Furstenau.MLA@leg.bc.ca , Tom.Ethier@gov.bc.ca , Tony.Hamilton@gov.bc.ca , Bruce.McLellan@gov.bc.ca , Tristan.Jones@gov.bc.ca

For more information go to our Leaders of Grizzly Bear Conservation’s Website Click Here: Valhalla Wilderness Society in New Denver, BC

WhoareweinBC

 

Letter to BC Gov’t Opposing Hunting Grizzly Bears For Meat

Now we have another study that indicates our pig-headed and intransigent government is on the wrong side of the public’s desires with respect to its peculiar enthusiasm for endorsing trophy hunting of a species that has already been extirpated from much of its range. Photograph by: JONATHAN HAYWARD, THE CANADIAN PRESS

Photograph by: JONATHAN HAYWARD, THE CANADIAN PRESS

Click Here: For more information on Valhalla Wilderness Society

October 6, 2017

OPEN LETTER TO THE BC GOVERNMENT OPPOSING
THE CONTINUATION OF HUNTING GRIZZLY BEARS FOR MEAT

We, the undersigned environmental and animal welfare organzations, and wildlife-based businesses, are pleased that the current BC government is committed to end the trophy hunt of grizzly bears. However we strongly oppose the government’s plans to allow continued grizzly bear hunting, under the pretext of hunting for meat, except for a jointly-regulated First Nations ceremonial/sustenance hunt. Part of the Great Bear Rainforest would have a total ban on hunting, but that’s only a very small part of grizzly bear habitat in BC. We oppose the meat hunt for the following reasons:

1. Grizzly bears are a species at risk. They are blue-listed in BC, and threatened by poaching, human conflicts, habitat destruction and hunting. They have disappeared from 18% of their range in BC. (1) Out of 56 grizzly bear subpopulations in BC, 9 are classified as “threatened” by British Columbia.

2. We expect to see much trophy hunting continued under the guise of
“meat” hunting. In the past, almost all grizzly bear hunting has been trophy
hunting. Many hunters find the meat unpalatable. Grizzly bears were
included by BC Fish & Wildlife with non-game animals such as wolverines,
wolves and cougars. Previously, BC hunting regulations have had
a provision allowing hunters to leave the meat on the ground and take
only the trophy parts. People do not travel hundreds or thousands of kilometres,
pay tens of thousands of dollars, and risk their lives shooting at
grizzly bears to put meat on the table. The proposed new regulations for
meat hunting will simply disguise trophy hunting as meat hunting. Even
if the head, hide and claws are left on the ground, or given to a conservation
officer, the hunter will take away trophy videos, photographs and
bragging rights. The bears will still be killed for sport.

The BC government is considering various options to distinguish trophy hunting from meat hunting, but they only increase our conviction that this division is unenforceable. For many years BC has been unable to control substantial poaching of bears, how will it account for every trophy part of every bear shot by hunters?

3. The government has claimed the grizzly hunt is sustainable. However, independent biologists have been saying for years that this is not true. We do not even know with certainty how many grizzly bears there are in BC, or how many can be killed without reducing the population. Peer-reviewed studies by scientists have found numerous cases of too many bears being killed (by all causes), even according to the government’s own population numbers. Studies have proven that hunters often kill too many female bears. The European Union investigated BC’s grizzly bear hunt, ruled it environmentally unsustainable, and banned the import of trophies.

4. Closing the meat hunt in a limited area will concentrate hunting in other areas. While the government proposes to stop all grizzly bear hunting in a 230,000-hectare area of the Great Bear Rainforest, this is only a small part of grizzly bear habitat across BC. Grizzly bear hunting in this area will simply move to other coastal and interior areas of the province.

In addition, the undersigned object to the following aspects of the public consultation process for the new grizzly bear hunting regulations.

1. The process only considers how to manage the meat hunt, not whether there should even be a meat hunt. Participants are forced to accept the meat hunt as fait accompli.

2. Poor public access to information. Only those who sign confidentiality agreements can have access to some important information. Only those willing to sign the confidentiality agreements can be “stakeholders”, which receive priority consultation. The government has not released a complete list of stakeholders. The process was not advertised until recently, when it had already been running about a month, unbeknownst to many undersigned organizations. The confidentiality agreements represent muzzling of public organizations and suppressing information.

In June of this year, 23 organizations concerned with the welfare of wildlife sent a letter to the BC government that stated: “The wildlife of the province belongs to all British Columbians, and has by law been held by the government in trust.” The letter came about because the provincial government had been giving hunting organizations and related businesses priority access to consultation on matters related to wildlife, resulting in glaring policy bias.

Today the undersigned organizations and businesses are seeking increased recognition by the government that BC wildlife belongs to all Canadians, who have an equal stake in how it is managed, and an equal right to relevant information. We expect proportionate representation in all provincial wildlife matters. BC has over 1,500 species at risk. Recognizing the worldwide biodiversity crisis, the management of our wildlife must shift away from maximizing how many animals hunters can kill, to the practice of conservation biology to ensure the survival of species at risk.

We hold that the upcoming Auditor General’s report on the grizzly bear hunt — which was due to be released in September — is critical information for all parties to have before making decisions on this issue. Rushing to change the hunting regulations before the report is released wastes the tax dollars that have been spent to better inform decision-making. We urge the BC government not to authorize any further grizzly bear hunting until it has done a full review of public input and the soon-to-be released Auditor General’s report.

Sincerely,

References
1. COSEWIC assessment and update status report on the Grizzly Bear of Canada, https://www.registrelep-sararegistry.gc.ca/default.asp?lang=En&n=A32186C4-1&offset=9

2. Artelle, K. A., Anderson, S. C., Cooper, A. B., Paquet, P. C., Reynolds, J. D., Darimont, C. T., “Confronting Uncertainty in Wildlife Management: Performance of Grizzly Bear Management,” PLOS ONE, Nov. 2013, Vol. 8, http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article/file?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0078041&type=printable

38 Signators

1. Animal Advocates of BC
2. Animal Alliance of Canada
3. Animal Justice
4. Animal Protection Party
5. Applied Conservation GIS
6. BC Nature
7. BC SPCA
8. Bears Matter
9. Canadians for Bears
10. Clayoquot Action
11. Craighead Institute
12. David Suzuki Foundation
13. DeerSafe Victoria
14. First Nations Environmental Network
15. Friends of the Lardeau River
16. Friends of Nemaiah Valley
17. George Rammell Grizzly bear activist
18. Great Bear Chalet
19. Humane Society International/Canada
20. Justice for B.C. Grizzlies
21. Kootenay Reflections Photography
22. Kwiakah First Nation
23. West Coast Wild Art Co.
24. Lifeforce Foundation
25. Ocean Adventures Charter Co.
26. Ocean Light II Adventures
27. Pacific Rainforest Adventure Tours
28. Pacific Wild
29. Purcell Alliance for Wilderness
30. Save the Cedar League
31. Steve Williamson Photography
32. Stop the Grizzly Killing Society
33. The Furbearers
34. Tourists Against Trophy Hunting
35. Valhalla Wilderness Society
36. Wildlife Defence League
37. Wolf Awareness Incorporated
38. Zoocheck Canada

 

Media Advisory: 38 Signators Say Grizzly ‘Meat’ Hunt Will Be A ‘Trophy’ Hunt in Disguise

Human-caused mortality is the greatest source of death for grizzly bears and is the primary factor limiting grizzly bear populations. The federal Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada lists grizzly bears as a species of special concern.

Human-caused mortality is the greatest source of death for grizzly bears and is the primary factor limiting grizzly bear populations. The federal Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada lists grizzly bears as a species of special concern.

For Immediate Release:
October 6, 2017

New Denver, BC – Thirty-eight environmental and animal welfare organizations, along with wildlife-based businesses and prominent activists, have signed an Open Letter to the BC Government opposing the continuation of grizzly bear hunting for meat. “The BC government is planning to end trophy hunting of grizzly bears, but will allow them to be hunted for meat across most of the province, except for a 230,000-hectare portion of the Great Bear Rainforest,” says Ian McAllister of Pacific Wild. “We are asking for a complete ban on hunting grizzly bears all over BC.”

The Open Letter says there has never been significant hunting of grizzly bears for meat in BC. “Previously grizzly bears were classified by BC Fish & Wildlife with non-game animals such as wolverines, wolves and cougars,” says Alan Burger of BC Nature. “Hunters were specifically allowed under law to leave the meat on the ground and take only the trophy parts. Many British Columbians are appalled that the government has now invented a grizzly bear meat hunt.”

“People don’t travel hundreds or thousands of kilometres, pay tens of thousands of dollars, and risk their lives shooting at grizzly bears to put meat on the table,” the Open Letter states. “They largely do it only for trophies and sport. Even if they have to leave the head, hide and claws behind, they take away trophy videos, photographs and bragging rights. The bears will still be killed for sport”.

The Open Letter disputes the BC government’s claim that hunting grizzly bears is sustainable. “Grizzly bears are a species at risk,” says Wayne McCrory, a bear biologist and Valhalla Wilderness Society director. “For years independent scientists have warned the government that BC may have far fewer grizzly bears than we think”.

“We have thriving grizzly bear viewing and photography businesses in the Interior, just like on the coast,” says famed Kootenay wildlife photographer, Jim Lawrence. “People are thrilled to see these magnificent animals alive and in photographs.

“Stop the Grizzly Killing Society receives comments from many hundreds of people,” says TrishBoyum, who has campaigned tirelessly to protect grizzlies. “It is clear that British Columbians want a total ban on killing grizzly bears across BC, except where they would be hunted by some First Nations People for sustenance and ceremonial purposes.”

“Collectively, our organizations, which represent the majority of British Columbians, urge the BC government not to authorize any further grizzly bear hunting until it has done a full review of public input and the soon-to-be released Auditor General’s report. This is a very critical conservation issue in our province and we have an opportunity to do it right.,” says Dr. Sara Dubois, Chief Scientific Officer of the BC SPCA.

Contact Persons:
Wayne McCrory, bear biologist and director, VWS, Click here: More information on VWS
Dr. Alan Burger, President, BC Nature,                                                                                            Trish Boyum, Stop Grizzly Killing Society
Jim Lawrence, Kootenay Reflections Photography,                                                                    
Dr. Sara Dubois, BC SPCA, 604.647.6403 (office)
Lindsay Stewart, Pacific Wild,

-30-

List of Signators

1. Animal Advocates of BC
2. Animal Alliance of Canada
3. Animal Justice
4. Animal Protection Party
5. Applied Conservation GIS
6. BC Nature
7. BC SPCA
8. Bears Matter
9. Canadians for Bears
10. Clayoquot Action
11. Craighead Institute
12. David Suzuki Foundation
13. DeerSafe Victoria
14. First Nations Environmental Network
15. Friends of the Lardeau River
16. Friends of Nemaha Valley
17. George Rammell Grizzly bear activist
18. Great Bear Chalet
19. Humane Society International/Canada
20. Justice for B.C. Grizzlies
21. Kootenay Reflections Photography
22. Kwiakah First Nation
23. West Coast Wild Art Co.
24. Lifeforce Foundation
25. Ocean Adventures Charter Co.
26. Ocean Light II Adventures
27. Pacific Rainforest Adventure Tours
28. Pacific Wild
29. Purcell Alliance for Wilderness
30. Save the Cedar League
31. Steve Williamson Photography
32. Stop the Grizzly Killing Society
33. The Furbearers
34. Tourists Against Trophy Hunting
35. Valhalla Wilderness Society
36. Wildlife Defense League
37. Wolf Awareness Incorporated
38. Zoocheck Canada

 

 

Pacific Wild Blog: Poll British Columbians Support Ban on All Grizzly Bear Hunting

Click Here to Read Full Blog on Pacific Wild’s Site

IanMcAllisterGrizzlyCub  Oct 3, 2017Pacific Wild
Vancouver, BC – Three-in-four British Columbians believe no grizzly bears should be hunted in the province, a new poll by Insights West conducted in partnership with Lush Cosmetics and the Commercial Bear Viewing Association has found.
In the online survey of a representative provincial sample, 74% of British Columbians are in favour of banning all grizzly bear hunting in the province, while 19% are opposed.
The highest level of support for banning all hunting of grizzly bears in British Columbia is observed among women (78%), residents aged 35-to-54 (79%), Vancouver Islanders (81%), BC New Democratic Party (NDP) and BC Green Party voters in the 2017 provincial election (81% for each) and non-hunters (75%).
In addition, almost three-in-five self-described hunters (58%) are in favour of banning all grizzly bear hunting in British Columbia.

PollBanMeatHuntOct'17

The Government of British Columbia recently banned trophy hunting of grizzly bears in the province. This decision is backed by almost nine-in-ten British Columbians (88%), including 69% who “strongly” support it.
The survey was conducted at the end of August, two weeks after the government’s announcement. The decision allows a residential hunt to continue.
“Our polling has shown that British Columbians have consistently been opposed to trophy hunting, so the level of support for the government’s decision is not surprising,” says Mario Canseco, Vice President, Public Affairs, at Insights West. “Still, with so many residents who believe grizzlies should not be hunted at all, there is definitely appetite for more action.”
“With such strong results from British Columbians, we believe that the government can go further and ban all hunting of grizzly bears across the province,” says Tricia Stevens, Charitable Giving Manager at Lush Cosmetics. “Scientists, bear viewing operators, conservationists and now even hunters are agreeing it’s time to protect this iconic species for once and for all.”

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‘Twyla Roscovich was driven to protect this world’: Activist and friend remembers filmmaker CBC

twyla-roscovich

Note from Barb of Bears Matter: To Donate Click on: A GoFundMe Page   to help secure funds for Twyla’s daughter, Ruby Lynn Ross. https://www.gofundme.com/for-the-future-of-ruby-lynn-ross

Biologist Alexandra Morton says she hopes filmmakers can continue Roscovich’s environmental efforts
CBC News Posted: Sep 18, 2017 10:00 AM PT Last Updated: Sep 18, 2017 10:00 AM PT
A close friend of Twyla Roscovich, the B.C. filmmaker whose body was discovered Friday, says the province has lost an important environmental voice.
Alexandra Morton, an activist and independent scientist, was the subject of Roscovich’s 2013 documentary, Salmon Confidential.
The film follows Morton’s efforts to reveal an industry cover up after she discovered B.C.’s wild salmon had tested positive for dangerous European salmon viruses.
• Body of missing filmmaker Twyla Roscovich found on Vancouver Island
“I think everybody felt the world was a little bit safer because Twyla was on the job,” Morton told host Rick Cluff on CBC’s The Early Edition.
“It wasn’t a job — it was a life for her. They felt that she would help protect everything we love about British Columbia.” Rosvovich vanished on Sept. 7, triggering a widespread search by the RCMP and the coast guard. In a statement, Roscovich’s family said her body was discovered Friday near Fisherman’s Wharf in Campbell River. The family did not release details about her death, but said no foul play was suspected.
Roscovich’s legacy
“I’ve lost one of my closest friends — perhaps my closest friend,” said Morton, who’s known Roscovich for more than 20 years.
Morton said Roscovich was the type of friend who noticed when others weren’t OK and would try to help. “I think that’s why so many of us are so devastated, because we just feel like we should have been there for her at the end. And somehow, none of us were.”
Twyla Roscovich’s family said her body was discovered Friday near Fisherman’s Wharf in Campbell River. (Twyla Roscovich/Facebook)
Friends and family are now raising funds for Roscovich’s four-year-old daughter Ruby.
Roscovich was pregnant during the filming of Salmon Confidential, Morton said, and was so committed that she flew to Norway to interview a scientist at the last possible moment.
Morton said she hopes other filmmakers can continue Roscovich’s legacy.
“She was driven to protect this world,” Morton said.

Click on Link: Listen to Interview to hear full interview on CBC Radio to hear Alexandra Morton

New B.C. government will review “professional reliance” by Briony Penn

Sept 07, 2017 Full Article:  http://www.focusonvictoria.ca/septoct-2017/new-government-will-review-professional-reliance-r11/

The practice may have played a leading role in creating some of BC’s most high-profile environmental blunders.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO, as a reporter for CHUM TV (aka The New VI), I got a call from a professional wildlife biologist in Port Alberni called Mike Stini. He’s an Island guy to the core—understated, drives a pickup, knows the bush like the back of his hand and, more than anything, loves this place and isn’t afraid to share his knowledge.

He was clearly upset. The BC Liberals had changed all the rules on forest management, and suddenly wildlife experts like him, who were hired by government prior to harvest plans to identify the old growth where elk and deer overwintered, or find and map the bear dens and the goshawk nests, were being shoved out the door. His concern wasn’t about losing the work; he could always go back full-time to taxidermy. It was about what was going to happen to his habitat on McLaughlin Ridge, the forested mountains that were about to be levelled by industry.

But the government seemed to reason that biologists like him were dispensable. If what was standing between a company and profit margins was a bear den, an ungulate winter range, or a goshawk nest, then the best thing to do was to get rid of the people who have that knowledge.

My reporting crew travelled all over McLauglin Ridge to do the story, looking at the hard-won designations of old-growth management areas, riparian zones, wildlife trees, and habitat for species at risk. We even crawled right up to one bear den that Stini had been monitoring for years, to check out the condition of the bear who looked out at us in a torpid state from the old-growth tree that served as his home for six months. Stini had data stretching back decades on the bear dens that he had found in the region. Up on the south-facing slopes of the ridge, under the big old Douglas-firs laden with arboreal lichens, he pointed out the signs of the deer and elk that overwintered there, surviving on lichens that blew down from their canopies in each winter storm.

All these areas, under the old designations, were about to be put under the control of logging company biologists—in a system that was referred to as “professional reliance.” The Forest Practices Code had been gutted, and the discretion to manage 45 million hectares of our public forests for the public’s interest, which included the protection of wildlife, water, recreational opportunities, cultural sites, subsistence hunting and so on, was now in the hands of industry.

Under the new regime, there was no legal requirement to have the forest surveyed for ecological or cultural values prior to logging; it was up to the professionals hired by industry to judge. If the public wasn’t happy with “the results” in this “results-based system,” they could take issue. But what use would taking issue be after the fact? And how did one assess results when the evidence for what had been there was gone? Especially when no one had been mandated to collect it.

Stini forecast that all the places that we visited would be logged under the new system. In 2015, I revisited those sites and he was right—everything was levelled, from the bear den to the winter range. Even worse, under the current designation of working forest, there is no chance the forest can even recover. In an industry-led cutting cycle of under 50 years, the trees will never mature long enough to produce a tree with a suitable diameter for a bear den, goshawk nest, or arboreal lichen to grow.

Logging on McLauglin Ridge

As Stini said in 2002 for the TV show, “Basically the wildlife is being punished by changing the rules all of a sudden. We are removing the checks and balances and turning it over to industry that is in the business of making money. All the habitat biologists feel strongly that this is backwards; they need to review the plans prior to logging, because once an area is logged, the habitat is gone forever. The real big danger is we are going to lose so much and no one will know. This legislation is so far-reaching that it will make it difficult for future generations to rebuild wildlife habitat. It is going to be a major problem. This legislation is wrong. It shouldn’t be happening.”

The government extended the practice of relying on resource extractors’ own professionals to evaluate the environmental aspects of mining and other projects.

MLA Sonia Furstenau

“SILENT BUT DEADLY,” is how Green MLA Sonia Furstenau describes professional reliance. “Most people have no idea what it is. It’s only when you encounter it that you recognize it for what it is.”

What is professional reliance for those who haven’t encountered the beast? After 17 years in the media following this slippery, seemingly innocuous monster that couldn’t make a headline if it drove itself off a cliff, I describe professional reliance, at best, as an elegant euphemism for deregulation and privatization. At its most egregious, it is this century’s master weapon for white-collar crime. Those who utilize these weapons—knowingly putting the public interest at risk—are referred to by David O. Friedrichs, a Distinguished Professor of Criminal Justice, as “trusted criminals.” Wendell Berry, land reformer and activist, calls them ” professional vandals” .

How do the proponents of professional reliance define it and defend it? And why is reviewing it one of the top four priorities in the 2017 Confidence and Supply agreement between the BC Green and NDP caucuses? With all the issues they could have picked, why did it push its way to the top?
Mark Haddock, a UVic lawyer with the Environmental Law Centre who did a lengthy 2015 analysis of the failures of the professional reliance “experiment,” says it is a grey term and has multiple interpretations that can easily mislead. His definition is “the substitution of professional opinion from experts inside of government for that of professionals in the employ of the [resource development] proponents.” He suggests renaming it “decision-making reliance.” Furstenau thinks it should be rebranded for what it is—conflict of interest.
British Columbians are not unfamiliar with how deregulation, with a loosening of standards around conflict of interest, can spiral into corporate white-collar crime. The Mount Polley disaster is a case in point of how badly it can go wrong with no third party oversight. The fact that the company, Imperial Metals, can continue to operate with no penalties, after destroying a lake for generations, clearly pushes citizens to the edge. Citizen groups are pursuing private prosecutions, and Premier Horgan has now committed to determine why a deadline was missed by the BC Liberals to lay charges against the company.
Furstenau feels the blame should lie in the failure of government to protect the public interest by handing over the responsibility to industry.

Over the years, corporate spin-doctors have found devious new ways to shed rules and government oversight, but professional reliance was a stroke of pure genius. Many were lulled into thinking that handing the management and oversight of our public lands and interest to a coterie of smiling, reliable professionals, with their reputations and professional associations hovering above to keep them in line, was a grand solution. After all, it was expensive to fund government-hired professionals.

filling an active quarry in the Shawnigan watershed with contaminated soil. She realized that not only could industry legitimately hire people who had a personal stake in that business (as employees, business partners or shareholders) to assess the environmental impacts of their activities, but there was no way to stop harm as long as those people were “up front” about their relationships. If the case hadn’t found a “deliberate concealment” of the discussion of ownership with the company hired to conduct the environmental assessment, South Island Aggregates might still be shovelling dioxins, hydrocarbons and furans onto what an independent hydrogeologist warned was fractured limestone “that provides no natural protection for the established drinking water sources in the region.”

In the last 17 years, virtually every news story about damage to public forests, lakes, rivers and oceans, affecting wildlife, water, air, soil, climate, and First Nations rights, with repercussions on every aspect of our health, can be traced to flaws in professional reliance. The big issues like Mount Polley, the Testalinden Creek landslide, and Shawnigan Lake are what catch the headlines, but they represent a fraction of the damage to our forests, communities and wildlife that Mike Stini predicted.

Citizens’ only recourse is to take the matter into their own hands, which is what they did in Shawnigan Lake. Haddock summarizes this state of affairs this way: “The deregulation takes government out of the picture and leaves health, safety and environmental protection outcomes to the ‘social license’ to operate for a given proponent or industry.”

Removing that “social license” at Shawnigan Lake cost local citizens $2 million in legal fees and thousands of volunteer hours with the very real possibility, still, of a contaminated watershed. As Furstenau says, “I want to be able to live my life without having to monitor and watchdog every aspect of my life from the water I drink, to the bridges I drive over. This is the main reason I got into provincial politics—to build trust in government again to protect its citizens.”

The lack of trust pervades not just government, but the professional associations themselves. As Furstenau points out, it isn’t their job to look after the public interest. And in a deregulated environment, with narrow terms of reference, there are virtually no laws to break, therefore no disciplinary actions to be taken.
The whole thing is a Machiavellian bag of worms. Haddock, along with a recent report by Evidence for Democracy, both revealed the level of concern that many professionals themselves have with provincial decision-making on natural resources. Few professionals are willing to talk openly. But, under protection of anonymity, they told Haddock of the many problems: “expert shopping”; clear conflicts of interest, but no way to address it; lack of checks and balances; loss of expertise in government; lack of confidence in government monitoring; problems with independent monitoring; lack of confidence in the disciplinary process of professional associations; reduced formal public involvement; greater user conflicts; no one out in the field who knows what is going on; filtering of information by proponents; too many grey areas; inexperienced crews operating; cavalier approach to risk…and the list goes on.

With the professional reliance model no longer being tied to the public interest, many professionals found it intolerable to work in an environment in which the term “stewardship” has largely been stripped out of their duties.

And now, at least one has resorted to legal action: Professional forester Martin Watts has accused the Province of blacklisting foresters for raising concerns over the quality of inventory data. Watts is spending his retirement savings to fund a case he might not win, but which will certainly lose him clients.

Furstenau, now overseeing the professional reliance file for the Green caucus, is at the information-gathering stage, helping Minister of Environment and Climate Change George Heyman set out a direction for the review. For her, citizen involvement is essential. It is important to hear from everyone who has been impacted by professional reliance, both within the professions and as citizens who have fought these issues. As she says, “this needs to be a robust review.”

As for predicting the outcome of the review, she can’t speculate, but one thing is certain: She wants an outcome in which she can return to her community and not feel as if all the responsibility for safeguarding the environment is in the hands of volunteers like herself on the Shawnigan Lake issue. It is a powerful motivator, and biologists like Stini will be cheering from the sidelines.

Briony Penn has been reporting on regional environmental issues for over 20 years. In the 2000s, she hosted the TV show “Enviro/Mental” which was nominated one of the top three magazine shows in Canada. She lives on Salt Spring Island.

Read more:http://www.focusonvictoria.ca/septoct-2017/new-government-will-review-professional-reliance-r11/