Rise Up and Rally Halifax
August 7, 2021
Bob Bancroft was one of the applicants in the legal case to save Owls Head Provincial Park. He is a respected wildlife biologist who worked for the Department of Natural Resources for almost three decades. Bancroft is the current president of Nature Nova Scotia, a collection of 15 Nova Scotia naturalist organizations. He has turned to environmental advocacy in an effort to protect natural ecosystems and species at risk through conservation science.
Thank you all for coming today. The ethical aspect of the Owls Head issue is important and needs to be heard. I’m grateful to all of you who have supported this cause and the legal effort.
To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, the best defence of democracy is a well-informed citizenry.
Jane Goodall put it succinctly: “We are trashing the planet.”
Former Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney calls it “trading off the planet for profit.”
Political efforts to address major world issues have been neither adequate nor sensible. Humans as well as nature need a significant change of direction in order to survive. Owls Head is part of an old story with new, deadly-efficient technologies.
One hundred and twenty years ago, in the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, within two months of being elected President, stepped in to stop the “timber thieves” from rampant extraction across the nation.
Teddy created parks in spite of loud, industry-led howling. Today, those parks are national treasures.
Besides Owls Head, this year Iain Rankin’s Liberal government is still entertaining proposals from gold mining and forestry companies to “develop” the last strongholds of the endangered mainland moose and Atlantic salmon on public lands.
Also this year, the forest industry mounted a campaign of lies designed to scare and enrage landowners and outdoor folks about the government’s Biodiversity Bill. Instead of standing up for their own bill, the Liberals quickly gutted an act that Nova Scotia sorely needed.
Humans need a healthy natural world around us to survive as a species.
My friend Frank Meuse, of Bear River First Nation, suggests that we should be “learning to be a good ancestor, one step at a time.”
One of the most notable aspects of the Owls Head story for me is that the Liberals took what everyone considered for decades to be a coastal park, they devalued it as “conservation land,” and then offered it to the developer for $306 an acre.
Nova Scotia’s Supreme Court Justice Brothers may be unable to help, but the Rankin Liberal government is clearly acting in violation of public trust and against the public interest in offering the secret, private sale of Owls Head.
Judge Brothers advises us to take this issue to the polls on August 17.
We need leadership. We can vote for candidates who pledge to stop clearcutting forests and to never secretly offer ecologically important public land for private sale, for a pittance, without public consultation.
We urgently need action, not words, to preserve public trust and foster respect for nature.
Nature needs our help.