The Calgary Herald reported this morning that Environment Minister John Baird had issued a statement from Inuvik, NWT — which by the way, we’re reliably informed is a wee bit chilly even at this time of the year (something the best and brightest of our political elite were apparently unaware of) — where His Portliness and senior cabinet ministers were wrapping up three days of intensive photo opportunities and still more multi-million dollar spending announcements in between doorstopping igloos ahead of their upcoming “fixed” election spectacular. But I digress…
In his missive, Baird accused then Environment Minister Stéphane Dion of a “failure of leadership” in protecting Canada’s polar bears in 2005. Gadzooks! Can such a heinous calumny be true?
What Baird was specifically referring to was the question of whether the polar bear’s status under the country’s endangered species legislation should have been changed from a species of “special concern” to that of the higher risk “threatened” or “endangered” designations. At the time, Dion had seen fit to simply refer the matter back to the federal agency responsible for recommending changes for additional study. This quite routine and, considering that the “imperiled” status of polar bears is rather suspect (e.g., here, here, here, and here), entirely sensible procedure, it turns out is what Baird maintains was an egregious failure on the Arctic “leadership” front by Dion.
There’s one slight flaw in Baird’s allegation, however. Namely, that it’s complete bullshit. The federal agency Dion had tasked to study the matter further three years ago has now reported back and it has again reaffirmed the “special concern” designation that’s been in place since 1991. So, in other words, there would have been no point whatsoever in Dion having acted otherwise than he did in 2005. Baird’s charge that Dion didn’t “take action to protect the polar bear” is an utterly specious fabrication. No additional “protection” was required then, and nor is any needed now (see all of the BT references above).
Oh, but wait, here’s the comedy-filled kicker. Even though the agency mandated with making scientific determinations about endangered species has, after three years of study, already made their recommendation that no change in status is needed, Baird now indicates that he’s going to disregard that and instead convene a “national roundtable” and a series of “nationwide consultations” with environmental groups and the Inuit “before changing the polar bear’s status.”
Change it to what exactly, one wonders. A ridiculous political prop that’s used just for the sake of conveniently demonstrating the Tories’ new electoral theme of “strong leadership on your side” perhaps?