TORONTO, May 9 /CNW/ – The McGuinty Liberals are committed to theprotection and recovery of Ontario’s endangered species. Today, the newEndangered Species Act is moving forward through committee hearings.Unfortunately, John Tory’s Conservatives and the NDP are trying to gut thelegislation before it becomes law.The Conservatives tabled amendments today that would gut thislegislation. Those Conservative amendments include: watering down thedefinition of habitat, preventing effective interim habitat protection, andeliminating automatic listing of species at risk based on scientific data.John Tory’s Conservatives and the NDP want to take us backwards to a timewhere sensitive ecological lands were simply paved over without any regard forour ecosystem.It is imperative that habitat is protected and that listing of endangeredspecies is science based. John Tory’s Conservatives are working to gut thesetwo fundamental pillars of the legislation.The Conservative legacy left threatened animals and plants at risk ofextinction due to the lack of “an overall strategy” for protecting endangeredspecies according to the provincial auditor’s report in 2002. With John Torywe are just getting more of the same.This legislation is also at risk from the NDP. Don’t take our word forit. Here’s what Dr. Rick Smith, Executive Director of Environmental Defencehad to say this morning, “the NDP allege that they are friends of theenvironment, but their motions would undermine the Endangered Species Act. Inthis case the NDP’s actions are completely at odds with its rhetoric.”It is a shameful indictment of the opposition that they are activelyseeking to undermine the protection of species at risk. The McGuinty Liberalswill continue moving forward to protect these species and our ecosystem as awhole.