Oh Canada, our home and native land. Humanity often forgets that we do not merely share land amongst ourselves. There are other sentient beings that depend on everything the landscape has to offer as well: wildlife. How can Canada’s environmental policy and law be characterized in terms of the moral consideration afforded to wildlife? Regarding my home province of Québec, I posed this exact question within my Undergraduate Honours thesis, which I wrote throughout the course of last year. In the context of my research, Max Foran’s book called The Subjugation of Canadian Wildlife: Failures of Principle and Policy offered some particularly helpful insights concerning the overall disposition of the country on the matter.
The book begins with an intriguing historical account of wildlife belief systems, delving into the perspectives of hunter-gatherers around 80,000 BCE, early Greco-Roman philosophers, early Christian writers, rationalist and scientific philosophers, early biologists, logical positivists, cognitive scientists, and modern government politicians. Management efforts are then discussed according to the most recent belief system of wildlife marginalization within the official policy-making process of Canada. The chapter reveals three themes: the absence of wildlife management from the Canadian Constitution at the federal level, the anthropocentric view of wildlife as a species-specific resource, and the management of wildlife according to human-based priorities.
Readers are then given a heartbreaking outlook upon the mistreatment of Canadian wildlife, as Foran describes the struggles of illusive apex predators, gentle boreal herbivores, as well as common urban scavengers through comprehensive case studies. His words are impassioned and compelling, as he addresses issues regarding the Species at Risk Act (SARA), the functioning of protected areas, and the current threats to both terrestrial and marine wildlife. Overall, he provides a truthful and detailed account of how little the current Canadian management regime considers or prioritizes the wellbeing of wildlife. Given that Foran is a Professor Emeritus in Communications, Media, and Film at the University of Calgary with a substantial academic background in history, he writes in a manner that is both clear and engaging for a broad audience to understand.
The Subjugation of Canadian Wildlife: Failures of Principle and Policy was first published in the spring of 2018 by McGill-Queen’s University Press. It is still available for purchasing at Indigo, which is where I bought my copy. I recommend this brilliant book for those who care about their furbearing neighbors and who are interested in the shortcomings of environmental policy in Canada, as well as those who love nature in general. It is a crucial read for all who strive to spread environmental awareness, as it depicts the many aspects in which political legislation can and should improve. Personally, I hope that this book reaches as many people as possible, because Canadian wildlife deserves to be treated as a significant part of both our home and our hearts.
Foran, M. (2018). The Subjugation of Canadian Wildlife: Failures of Principle and Policy. Montréal, Québec: McGill-Queen’s University Press.