I guess there are a couple of points I'd like to make on this one, Mr. Chair.
There has been controversy about what the status is, given the difference in the classification title given by the IUCN and COSEWIC, and by the Americans, in fact. That was one of the reasons the Minister of the Environment, Minister Prentice, held a polar bear round table in January, which was to share knowledge. So there was a presentation there from both the chair of COSEWIC and independent scientists, as well as from Inuit, to discuss what exactly is the status and why the classification outcome is different in different countries.
One of the things COSEWIC does.... And I should underscore that the assessment of special concern comes from the independent body; it's not Environment Canada or Parks Canada, but it is the independent body appointed by the minister who have come up with that assessment. They have a rigorous process, which I'm sure the chair of that committee would be happy to explain to you when he comes. Under that process, though, they do include traditional aboriginal knowledge. That is because western scientists have only been studying many of these species for a few decades, whereas traditional aboriginal knowledge has generations of information.
That information was key in COSEWIC's assessment. They had assessed the polar bear as a species of special concern. The Governor General, after the act was passed, referred it back to the committee so that traditional aboriginal knowledge would be included in the decision-making and in the analysis by COSEWIC, which was done.
COSEWIC reported back last fall that, again, they felt it was of special concern. They did note that climate change will likely have an impact over the next three generations. But in the short term, the biggest threat is over-hunting in some areas.
That was the second purpose of the polar bear round table the minister held in January, to discuss the kinds of management practices that various jurisdictions are putting in place. And it's important to note that for two of the subpopulations where hunting was significantly reduced, the populations of polar bears appear to be recovering.
So COSEWIC provides independent advice that the species is a species of special concern. The departments are in the process of consulting on that before finalizing their advice for listing of that species.