I know caribou isn’t a topic that’s been top of mind for a while with COVID-19, but it is still very much a huge issue with proposed closures and very little consultation.
When it comes to any caribou recovery plans in our region, I have always said that I will fight to have our local voices heard. That is why I am pleased to be able to sponsor an online petition initiated by Leah McQueen, Regional Officer for the South Peace for the Four Wheel Drive Association of BC, regarding caribou closures in our region. Here is the text of the petition:
“Petition to the Government of Canada
· Community leaders throughout Northeastern British Columbia have expressed grave concern over the lack of consultation with regards to proposed caribou recovery plans;
· Over 55,000 individuals have signed a petition calling on the provincial government to further consult users, stakeholders, businesses, and local government, immediately begin economic and socio-economic impact studies on the Northeast region, and provide baseline data on populations and relevant science-based studies to support closures and recovery plans;
· Premier John Horgan has publicly admitted that local leadership will not be formally included in the partnership agreement despite the recommendation made by his now former community liaison on caribou recovery;
· Premier John Horgan's community liaison on caribou recovery has since resigned; and
· The Government of Canada is one of the signatories on the caribou Partnership Agreement.
We, the undersigned, citizens of Canada, call upon the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to work with the province of British Columbia to ensure that local voices are being considered, including consulting further with community leadership and local caribou experts on the ground.”
It is an honour to have worked alongside Leah in bringing this important issue forward. As we all know, the caribou partnership agreement was signed without any real consultation with local leadership, despite repeated requests to be a part of the process.
These voices are important and they deserve to be heard.
Those who would like to sign the petition have until September 4, 2020 to do so. It can be found here: https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-2470
Bob Zimmer is the Member of Parliament for Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies.