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News Item - Letter

Ontario Wildlife Coalition
221 Broadview Avenue, Suite 101
Toronto, Ontario M4M 2G3
416-462-9541 (p)  416-462-9647 (f)
liz@animalalliance.ca

April 2, 2005

Premier Dalton McGuinty
Government of Ontario
Room 281, Main Legislative Building
Toronto, Ontario  M7A 1A4

Dear Premier McGuinty

You should be aware that your reliance on information provided by the Ministry of Natural Resources with respect to the wildlife rehabilitation crisis it has caused in Ontario is now making you personally party to this Ministry’s misrepresentations.

A letter, over your signature, relays that the EBR proposals were sent to every authorized custodian in Ontario with a request for their input. In fact, many authorized custodians throughout Ontario have indicated they did not receive any information and only learned about the proposed changes by word of mouth following the EBR posting.

As for those groups that you say were consulted about this EBR posting, why have you not, having been highly critical of the previous government’s handling of the wildlife rehabilitation crisis, honoured the Liberal’s commitment that “we support a full and complete review of MNR regulations in relation to wildlife rehabilitation. In government, we will work closely with you (Friends of the Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre) and other stakeholders as we review these regulations”?

Why does your government continue to maintain that the Ontario Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Network (OWREN) represents wildlife rehabilitators in Ontario? Although OWREN has never been given the mandate by its members to speak on their behalf with respect to policy matters, the MNR has, for the past number of years, attempted to exploit the handful of OWREN board members for its own self-serving purposes. However, even this unethical and opportunistic effort by the MNR has failed as we have learned from an OWREN Newsletter published in January 2005. The Newsletter states: “OWREN board members were asked to give their opinions on a very early draft review in mid-spring”. The Newsletter goes on to include the following excerpts that the OWREN board sent with its response to the MNR, demonstrating that the opposition to these proposals, even within the Ministry’s co-opted group of  friends, is universal:

  • We see this as a definite step in the wrong direction
     
  • This version of the draft conditions is unacceptable to the OWREN board members. We can unequivocally state that they will be received in the same manner by the OWREN membership and by all custodians in Ontario
     
  • These are not indicative of the real world but suggest a rather strong bureaucratic influence a century removed from anything that resembles progressive, science-based wildlife rehabilitation anywhere in North America
     
  • No other province or state has such harsh restrictions as those being proposed in this document. The implementation of these conditions will drive rehabilitation straight back underground and into the hands of the public – with disastrous results.

And, yet, in spite of this condemnation by OWREN, Minister of Natural Resoures, David Ramsay, in announcing the EBR proposal issued a press release on December 15, 2004 that quoted the chair of OWREN, “We are encouraged that the ministry has listened to the concerns expressed by custodians ……………………”, implying that wildlife rehabilitators, beyond the few OWREN board members, had actually been consulted and that they were in favour of these fully unworkable proposals. Your government should be ashamed of being involved with something so utterly unethical. 

As we stated in a letter a month ago to Minister Ramsay in which we asked him to intervene, it is unconscionable that wildlife rehabilitators along with the public that rely on them for help now that the wildlife birthing season has arrived, have been left in total legal limbo. This, in spite of all the subterfuge, time and money wasted on this public consultation by the Liberal government.

Worse still, the MNR seems intent in continuing this unacceptable and unstable climate through contradictory statements and unfair application of regulations across the province. It is particularly disturbing that while some individuals are having their authorizations withheld, others have been told at a recent OWREN meeting, attended by the MNR, that the regulations are unenforceable as the MNR does not have the manpower to monitor releases.  It is untenable that the MNR is suggesting to some of its co-opted OWREN friends that it is okay to break the law.   

The MNR has shown that it can no longer be depended upon in this matter. It is widely known that the Rabies Research and Development Unit and its DNA Cluster project at Trent University, the subject of growing controversy, is behind these draconian proposals and that they have nothing to do with protecting human health and wildlife populations but rather with expanding already unwarranted rabies research spending.

We ask you to honour the promise you made in September 2003 to review the MNR and to do what is necessary to reinstate a progressive wildlife response in Ontario.

Sincerely

Liz White, Spokesperson
Ontario Wildlife Coalition

Donna DuBreuil, President
Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre

c.c. Hon. David Ramsay
Mr. John Baird
Mr. Ernie Hardeman
Mr. Pat Hoy
Mr. Peter Kormos
Mr. Gerry Martiniuk
Mr. John Milloy
Ms. Carol Mitchell
Mr. Ernie Parsons
Mr. Richard Patten
Mr. Michael Prue
Mr. Jim Watson
Mr. John Wilkinson
Ms. Elizabeth Witmer

All MPP’s

Click here to view original letter in Word format

 

 
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