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Charette is “confident” of meeting Ottawa’s caribou deadlines

Photo: Jacques Boissinot The Canadian Press Benoit Charette said he was “confident that we can make progress on the [caribou] issue in the coming weeks.”

Faced with a new ultimatum from Ottawa to save the forest and mountain caribou, the Quebec Minister of the Environment, Benoit Charette, said “confident” to finally be able to submit its protection strategy. However, it will have to take into account the “60,000 jobs” in forestry offered across Quebec.

The CAQ elected official took note, on Tuesday, of the letter sent to him by his federal counterpart, Steven Guilbeault, last week. In the missive, the Liberal minister urges François Legault's government to submit its strategy, which has been postponed many times, by May 1. Promised for years, the plan was to be presented in June 2023 before summer forest fires force Quebec to return to the drawing board.

“I am very concerned about these additional delays given the extremely precarious situation of this species,” Steven Guilbeault wrote last week.

Interviewed on Tuesday, Benoit Charette assured that “it is work which continues, which advances”, but which is “extremely, extremely complex”. “We cannot minimize the complexity of the case. I have 60,000 jobs, essentially, in Quebec which are linked to forestry,” recalled the Minister of the Environment, who is also responsible for wildlife protection. “I will not compromise the development and survival of certain regions. »

To a journalist who asked him if he would be able to meet Ottawa's deadlines, the elected official said he was “confident that we will be able to move forward on the file in the coming weeks”, but reminded Mr. Guilbeault that it was necessary to consider the “balance” between jobs and the protection of caribou in the four corners of Quebec. “It’s normal that he [Mr. Guilbeault] wishes to enforce his law. And it is normal that, on the Quebec side, we can say to him: “Be careful of the impacts that a strict and blind application of this law could have,” argued Mr. Charette.

The federal Species at Risk Act states that the federal Minister of the Environment may “make an emergency order for the protection of a listed wildlife species” if it “is exposed to imminent threats to its survival or recovery.” This decree then allows it to designate protected areas and protection measures.

In 2022, the Independent Commission on Forest and Mountain Caribou recommended the establishment of several protected areas across Quebec. The following year, Minister Charette committed to creating a series, including one in the Pipmuacan reservoir sector. It was before the forest fires.

Last December, Minister Charette announced that his strategy would come sometime in January 2024. This is the latest postponement in a long series of postponements dating back to 2019.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116