Stand­ing Up for Wildlife

Canadian Wildlife - - FROM CWF - Rick J. Bates CEO, Cana­dian Wildlife Fed­er­a­tion

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.

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