Standing Up for Wildlife
To ensure the Canadian Wildlife Federation is working on the most important issues facing wildlife and in a way you our supporters see as being most effective, we regularly survey your thoughts and opinions.
Over the past several years, you have been consistent in telling us one of the most important things we need to do is to shape public policy. We work to deliver on that advice within the bounds of existing guidelines and, when needed, we work to change the boundaries.
CWF has a long and successful track record in shaping government policy. One of the first issues CWF tackled when it was created in 1962 was to encourage the federal government to ban the use of DDT. Back then it was a widely used agricultural pesticide highly toxic to fish and birds. After a long campaign, it was banned in Canada in 1985 and is now banned in 34 countries. Two high-profile species that were in serious decline due to DDT, the bald eagle and the peregrine falcon, have since recovered.
Work to create or change government policy is not all we do. Rather, it is one part of the multi-faceted approach we take to make change in society. We analyze issues and apply the solution or combination of solutions we believe will be most effective. This typically involves four major elements.
First, we use the best available science and we carry out our own research to ensure we have a deep understanding of the problems and potential solutions. Second, we deliver education programs to maintain a conservation ethic across society, to raise public awareness of issues facing wildlife and to encourage personal action. Third, we deliver programs to restore species and to better understand the issues driving the loss of wildlife. And fourth, we advocate for policy and programs that will help create lasting change.
Our advocacy is non-partisan — we do not care what political party or candidate happens to be in office or campaigning for office. We care only that they take steps to address the most important issues facing wildlife and our environment. We take pride in providing a balanced voice, based on good science and local knowledge, as well as on a good understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of current government policy and programs.
However, the bounds on charities and non-profit participation in political activities hinder the voice of Canadians in ongoing public policy priority-setting, policy development and the accountability of politicians.
This was recognized in the mandate letters for National Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier and Finance Minister Bill Morneau that directed them to: “Allow charities to do their work on behalf of Canadians free from political harassment, and modernize the rules governing the charitable and not-for-profit sectors…. This will include clarifying the rules governing ‘political activity,’ with an understanding that charities make an important contribution to public debate and public policy. A new legislative framework to strengthen the sector will emerge from this process.”
Since then, a report by the Consultation Panel on the Political Activities of Charities containing similar recommendations was released by the minister of national revenue.
We agree charities and non-profits should remain non-partisan, that political activities should be subordinate to the charity’s purpose. However, we also recognize the need to change the boundaries.
Unfortunately, to date there has been no response to the report. We will continue to encourage political parties of all stripes to take action for nature and to follow through on these important changes.