Madam Speaker, I want to point out to the constituents of the member for The Battlefords-Meadow Lake that he works very hard on environmental initiatives in this House. In responding to his questions I would like to say that Bill C-65, the Canadian Endangered Species Protection Act, is the first ever federal legislation to protect endangered species in Canada.
The purpose of this act is to prevent Canadian wildlife species from becoming extinct as a result of human activity and to secure their recovery. This act along with provincial and territorial co-operation in ensuring complementary legislation and programs will afford protection to endangered species across the country.
The provinces and the territories have agreed to a national accord for the protection of species at risk. Under the terms of the accord the provinces and the territories are co-operating with the federal government to ensure that complementary legislation and programs are put into place.
The act formalizes the existing process by which we identify those species that are endangered. The committee on the status of endangered wildlife in Canada, COSEWIC, comprises a group of independent scientific experts who review and report on the status of wildlife species in Canada.
The bill now provides a legal basis for the committee and formalizes its work under Canadian law. This bill recognizes that habitat is fundamental to the protection of species. On the official listing of an endangered species, activities causing damage or destruction to its residence, such as its den, nest or burrow, will be prohibited. We also recognize that we need to go beyond the immediate residence of a given species in order to protect its critical habitat.
The mandatory recovery plans will address the threats to the survival of the species, including threats to critical habitat as defined by the scientific experts. As far as federal lands are concerned, the minister and his colleagues will be made aware of species listed annually by COSEWIC.
This bill gives the federal government the authority to create regulations needed to regulate or prohibit activities that will adversely affect the species or its critical habitat. The act also enables regulations prohibiting activities that wilfully harm species at risk that cross Canada's international boundaries in the absence of equivalent action by the provinces.
It also provides for emergency orders in the event that immediate action is required for the protection of a species. Where loss of habitat is identified as an imminent threat, emergency orders will include measures for its protection.
Under the national accord with the provinces and territories, all jurisdictions are publicly accountable for their actions and decisions. If a province chooses not to provide species protection, that decision will be on the public record. Further, the accord provides for a mechanism to address any such disputes that may arise.
Governments have a duty and a responsibility to work in partnership with one another, and with concerned citizens across the country and around the world, to prevent species from becoming extinct.
This act, along with complementary provincial and territorial legislation and programs, does just that by putting the needs of nature first.