Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Lorne Doerkson

NDP wildlife bill creates confusion

MLA Lorne Doerkson’s column

  • Apr. 8, 2022 1:30 p.m.

I have recently been inundated with messages of anxiety and uncertainty about wildlife management legislation that has been introduced by the NDP government. While the bill itself is short, it certainly raises no shortage of concerns.

The proposed legislation seeks to make changes to the way that hunting and wildlife management decisions are made in B.C. It will also enshrine in law the incorporation of Indigenous knowledge into this type of decision making.

Of course, greater collaboration and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples in the protection and management of B.C.’s wildlife is a positive step for this government, especially considering the NDP has not always listened to and respected Indigenous voices when conducting conservation policies.

However, while we certainly need to have more conversations about wildlife management in our province, the bill proposed by the NDP is not the legislation we need — it lacks necessary detail and will only serve to create further conflict. The definitions in the bill are too broad, and this lack of clarity could lead to heightened tensions and even more confusion.

It could even lead to situations where an individual would be able to circumvent our province’s wildlife conservation and management practices and not have to abide by provincial hunting rules and laws.

We also want to ensure that government delivers more transparency, as right now the NDP is keeping Indigenous knowledge secret and will not provide the rationale for decisions being made.

We must also recognize that traditional practices and knowledge will not always perfectly align with a scientific-led approach to wildlife conservation. Will there be a mechanism in place to review this knowledge or corroborate it with science? Or a process for how a decision will be made when these two approaches conflict? At the moment, there doesn’t appear to be one — or it’s entirely unclear in the way government has written this legislation.

At the end of the day, B.C. needs an approach to wildlife management that values traditional practices in tandem with scientific-led decision-making. But more than anything, we need to have clarity on how they work together — something we know the proposed legislation doesn’t adequately provide.

Everyone deserves to know what the rules are, and how government is going about making decisions that directly impact their lives and livelihoods. We recognize the intention behind government creating this legislation, but this ambiguous bill certainly is not the best possible way we can move reconciliation forward while also improving our wildlife conservation and management. With this bill, the NDP are once again leaving people in the dark.

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