Ecojustice is tracking the federal government's roll back of Canada's environmental laws.
Created by kshearon on Apr 19, 2012
Last updated: 11/21/12 at 02:38 PM
EnviroLaw Watch has no followers yet. Be the first one to follow.
First Nations and environmental, recreation and grassroots groups supported by more than half a million Canadians today issued an open letter opposing the federal government’s controversial second omnibus bill, C-45, as the proposed legislation enters final rounds of debate in Parliament this week. “The changes proposed in this omnibus bill would further weaken Canada’s environmental laws, remove critical federal safeguards, and reduce opportunities for the public to have their say about major industrial projects that could threaten the air, water, soil and natural ecosystems on which all Canadians, and our economy, depend,” they said in the letter. The signatories include the BC Assembly of First Nations, the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, leading environmental organizations including the David Suzuki Foundation, Ecojustice, Équiterre and the World Wildlife Fund, as well as groups from different sectors nationwide (see list below).
Sudbury’s lakes and rivers could be left vulnerable to unregulated development if the second omnibus budget implementation bill from the federal Conservatives is passed and eliminates the Navigable Waters Protection Act.
Sudbury Member of Parliament Glenn Thibeault said dozens of lakes will remain protected by the federal government, however, Sudbury’s 330 lakes will be vulnerable if the bill is passed.
A heads-up to Canada’s paddlers, anglers, cottagers and outdoor recreation enthusiasts: The rules that protect navigation on 99 per cent of Canada’s lakes and rivers are changing dramatically. And you may not appreciate the deregulatory surprises that await you once the federal government passes Bill C-45, its second omnibus bill of 2012.
Buried within the bill’s pages are drastic changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act. The end result? Litigation will become the new regulation as private citizens find they have no choice but to turn to the courts to uphold their navigation rights.
When the federal government tabled Bill C-45, its second omnibus bill of the year, it took aim at another long-standing environmental law: the Navigable Waters Protection Act.
While the law has, on occasion, delayed minor projects like small docks or footbridges, the tabled amendments go far beyond reducing red tape for efficiency’s sake.
On October 18, 2012, the federal government introduced Bill C-45, the Jobs and Growth Act, 2012 (the Bill). This Bill builds upon Bill C-38, which was introduced and passed in the spring and was the subject of prior Blakes Bulletins. There are several amendments in Bill C-45 that will be of significance to businesses across the country, in particular in respect of works which are proposed for navigable waters.
VANCOUVER — A second omnibus bill, C-45, tabled today by the federal government picks up where last spring’s budget bill left off, and further eliminates environmental hurdles for projects like Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline.
Buried in the 457-page bill are changes to the laws that once protected Canada’s waterways, including the Navigable Waters Protection Act. As a result, of the 32,000 or so lakes in Canada, only 97 are still protected by this law.
roposed changes to a federal law governing navigable waters would end its ability to protect tens of thousands of Canada’s waterbodies, environmentalists say.
Amendments to the Navigable Waters Protection Act introduced as part of a sweeping budget implementation bill on Thursday limit its application to 97 lakes, 62 rivers and the three oceans that border Canada. That means construction of dams, bridges and other projects would be permitted on most waterways without prior approval under the act, which currently covers any body of water big enough to float a canoe in.
This spring we saw the federal government unleash an unprecedented attack on Canada’s environmental laws with its omnibus budget bill. Chief among the changes contained in the 425-page Bill C-38 was a complete overhaul of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) — something we told you was bad news for citizens who want a say in what happens to the air, water and land that we all share.
We stressed the important role that environmental assessments play in making sure that we take steps to minimize the impacts industrial development has on the ecosystems that sustain us. Environmental assessments also offer a crucial opportunity for people to speak up and be heard when decisions that affect the environment are being made.
When the federal government announced that it intends to amend the Species at Risk Act (SARA) to make it more “effective,” Ecojustice decided to was time to take a closer look at Canada’s endangered species legislation to evaluate the strength of existing laws and how well they work.
The end result is a new report, Failure to Protect: Grading Canada's Species at Risk Laws. And unfortunately, the picture it paints of endangered species protection in Canada is rather grim.
VANCOUVER – A new report that evaluates the effectiveness of Canada’s endangered species legislation is pointing to the federal government’s failure to follow its own law as one of the biggest barriers to saving imperilled wildlife.
Released today by Ecojustice, Failure to Protect: Grading Canada’s Species at Risk Laws, gives the federal, provincial and territorial governments a grade for their efforts to protect at risk plants and animals. Several provinces, including British Columbia and Alberta, failed outright while the highest score, obtained by Ontario, was a C+.
VANCOUVER – Environmental groups are taking the federal government to court over its continued failure to implement the Species at Risk Act (SARA) and fulfill its legal responsibility to protect endangered wildlife living along the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline and shipping route.
The lawsuit challenges the federal government’s multi-year delays in producing recovery strategies for four species that would be affected by the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway project — the Pacific Humpback Whale, Nechako White Sturgeon, Marbled Murrelet and Southern Mountain Caribou. The habitat for all four species, which lies along the proposed pipeline and shipping route, would be impacted by the construction and operation of the Northern Gateway pipeline.
What do the the Pacific Humpback Whale, Nechako White Sturgeon, Marbled Murrelet and Southern Mountain Caribou all have in common?
One of the most powerful foes of the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline through northern British Columbia is not a lawyer or a conservation group or any of the many First Nations who have lined up against the project.
It’s a very large, very, very old fish.
The Nechako white sturgeon is listed as an endangered species under the federal Species At Risk Act, a designation which is supposed to legally protect the sturgeon’s habitat so the species can recover.
After 10 years of ups and downs, the legislation that protects precarious wildlife is ready for an overhaul that will kick into high gear this fall, Environment Minister Peter Kent says.
In an interview with The Canadian Press, Mr. Kent said he wants to spend the next few months figuring how to make the Species At Risk Act more efficient.
The only way for Canada to address the effects of climate change, both here and abroad, is to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, which means curbing oilsands expansion and embracing renewable sources of energy.
If the omnibus budget bill just passed by the federal government guts Canada’s key national environmental laws, does that mean it’s time to shutter Ecojustice’s four offices across Canada? Well, if some folks in Ottawa had their way, that would be the case. For the 20 years that Ecojustice has been using the law to protect and restore Canada’s environment, who has been the number one defendant? The federal government.
Deux mille quinze! Deux mille quinze!”
The French chant “2015” started in the upper reaches of the NDP backbench and soon cascaded into a common, desk-thumping chorus just before midnight Thursday in the House of Commons.
The tone from the official Opposition was oddly celebratory, given that they’d just faced 22-plus hours of consecutive spankings by a Conservative majority government voting to protect its omnibus budget bill from hundreds of amendments. (From the Toronto Star)
As Parliament prepares to vote on the 2012 budget bill, the country’s leading lawyers and law professors are calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to split the 400-plus page bill — which will change some 70 laws and greatly weaken environmental protections — to ensure that the bill’s full scope of proposed changes are thoroughly debated.
Canada’s environmental laws are under attack by both the federal and Ontario governments. In Ottawa, the government introduced Bill C-38 to implement far-reaching measures announced in its budget. Ontario’s government introduced a similar omnibus bill with profound implications for the environment.
The 420-page Bill C-38 will gut a raft of federal laws passed over the years to ensure that our air, water, and most vulnerable wildlife populations are protected. Casualties include the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, Fisheries Act, Species at Risk Act, National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy Act, and the Kyoto Implementation Act. (From the Georgia Straight)
The 20-year-old video predated YouTube, yet it has since gone viral, with 20 million views.
Its picture is grainy but the words are crystal clear.
"We've come 5,000 miles to tell you adults you must change your ways."
A 12-year-old Canadian girl stands before world leaders, expressing the fears and despair of a young generation facing at a bleak future for the planet they will inherit. (From the Edmonton Journal)
Discord between the Tories and environmentalists began when the federal natural resources minister maligned environmental groups as radicals. It escalated with the introduction of Bill C-38, a package of new laws, some directly targeting charities and environmental protections.
Now it’s war.
Environmental groups are fighting back after the Conservatives accused them of hijacking public decision-making and using foreign funding to damage national economic interests. Their target is Bill C-38 which opponents say weakens fish habitat protection and strengthens the taxman’s powers to question charities. (From the Vancouver Sun)
Conservative politicians – including a former Reform MP who was his party’s environment critic when Stephen Harper was opposition leader – have joined more than 20 other former members in protesting the government’s decision to kill the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy. (From the Globe and Mail)
A seasonal stream flowed through Larri Woodrow's one hectare hobby farm in the north Langley neighbourhood of Walnut Grove.
Although the property, purchased in 1970, was outside the agricultural land reserve, Woodrow personally favoured the area remaining rural. But that's not what happened. (From the Vancouver Sun)
The proposal for a copper mine near Fish Lake, B.C., is back on the front burner. Once again environmentalists and first nations are pitted against non-native residents and the provincial government, with Ottawa acting as referee.
A panel has been at work on the file for a month. A decision is due in November. Opponents of the mine can take comfort in knowing that the new assessment will take place under existing, stricter, rules. (From the Globe and Mail)
Sweeping changes to environmental protection legislation in the controversial federal budget bill include new powers and responsibilities for the provinces when it comes to environmental reviews.
Environmentalists are worried the change will reduce the oversight of major natural resource projects, including the oilsands.
But the Alberta government suggests the move will have little effect and generally reflects practices already in place. (From the Calgary Herald)
Otto Langer has devoted his adult life to protecting fish habitat.
Now he wonders if it was all for nothing. The retired head of habitat assessment and planning for the federal Fisheries Department in B.C. and Yukon describes the Conservative government's planned changes to the Fisheries Act as the biggest setback to conservation law in Canada in half a century. And he takes it very personally. (From the Vancouver Sun)
Two scheduled media events on the St. John’s waterfront Monday morning showed a great political divide.
At Harvey’s Marine offices, a collection of representatives from the mining and oil and gas industries were on hand to hear Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Peter Penashue describe the benefits of impending changes to federal environmental regulations, through budget Bill C-38 — a “streamlining” of the regulatory system. (From the Telegram)
The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, David Suzuki Foundation, the Pembina Institute are just some of Canada’s prominent environmental organizations that called on Canadians to speak out in defence of Canada’s values of democracy and the environment.
The BLACKOUTSPEAKOUT website states, “Our land, water, climate are all threatened by the latest federal budget. Proposed changes in the budget will weaken environmental laws and silence the voices of those who seek to defend them. Silence is not an option.” (From iPolitics)
Organizers of a one-day website blackout say the Harper government is using its majority to force through environmental changes it never campaigned on, silencing its critics while it does the bidding of the oil industry.
More than 500 websites went dark on Monday, as a coalition of environmental groups, corporations, church groups and other political commentators joined forces for an "unprecedented" protest of what they see as the government's effort to "silence" environmental voices using measures found in the omnibus budget implementation legislation. (From CBC News)
Opposition to the Harper government's controversial omnibus budget bill went viral Monday as more than 500 organizations shuttered their web sites to protest measures they say will destroy the environment and silence dissent.
But there was little sign the federal Conservatives were listening.
As hundreds of web sites went "dark," the government dispatched 10 of its ministers across the country from St. John's, N.L., to Surrey, B.C., to sell its vision that having fewer checks on resource exploitation isn't necessarily bad for the environment. (From the Canadian Press)
undreds of environmental and activist groups in Canada shut down their websites for a day on Monday to protest Canadian government policies that will make it easier to build pipelines to transport oil from Alberta’s vast oilsands.
The groups — joined by U.S.-based groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council — say the Conservative government is also trying to silence opponents of the pipelines from the oilsands, the world’s third-biggest oil reserve and the subject of much environmental concern. (From the Calgary Herald)
Some 500 organizations are blacking out their websites in a day of protest against government omnibus budget bill C-38 and its clampdown on environmental charities doing advocacy work.
“Bill C-38 is reflective of a deeply troubling pattern to silence voices talking about environmental issues,” said Alex Neve, Secretary General for Amnesty International Canada, flanked by representatives from the Sierra Club and Environmental Defence. (From Metro News)
Fish species do not simply live in isolation from other fish species. That is why the amendments in the federal Fisheries Act in the 452-page budget implementation bill should themselves be amended. (From the Globe and Mail)
Dear Prime Minister Harper:
As privy councillors from British Columbia who have served as ministers of Fisheries and Oceans in past federal governments, we wish to inform you of our serious concern regarding the content of Bill C-38 and the process being used to bring it into force.
We have had lengthy and varied political experience and collectively have served in cabinet in Progressive Conservative and Liberal governments alike. We believe we have a fair understanding of the views of Canadians. Moreover, we believe there is genuine public concern over the perceived threat this legislation poses to the health of Canada’s environment and in particular to the well-being of its fisheries resources. (From open letter in the Globe and Mail)
Federal opposition parties are hoping to inspire a public backlash against what they see as the Conservatives’ increasingly autocratic governing style.
New Democrats and Liberals are hitting the road to meet with Canadians as part of a political attempt to derail the government’s 452-page omnibus budget bill.
New Democrats have held sessions in six cities, critiquing a “Trojan horse bill sneaking in hundreds of pages of harmful new measures," (From the Vancouver Sun)
The opposition Liberals in the Senate are going online to push what has thus far been a war of words on the Senate floor over foreign funding of Canadian charities, into a full-fledge investigation inside the confines of a Senate committee room.
If that were to happen, the Senate finance committee would have the power to call witnesses, get expert advice and make recommendations to the Senate and the government. (From Postmedia News)
The four former federal fisheries ministers from B.C. who wrote a joint letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper condemning changes to the Fisheries Act don't appear to have read the legislation, Environment Minister Peter Kent said Thursday.
The four ministers included former Progressive Conservative minister Tom Siddon, who delivered a scathing clause-by-clause critique of the legislation before a parliamentary committee here the previous evening. (From Postmedia News)
When we think of Canada, some of the first things that come to mind are powerful images of our rich natural legacy — towering forests, rolling plains and abundant lakes and rivers. These wild spaces appeal to our sense of freedom, the feeling that anything is possible, that we can create our own destiny.
The same values — freedom, possibility and interconnection — are also the foundation of a democratic society, one where all citizens have the right to think and speak freely about their vision for a healthy Canada. One where decision-makers respect the diverse voices of citizens and treat them as stakeholders in shaping the future that we all share. (From the Vancouver Sun)
In a rare show of solidarity across party lines, four former federal fisheries ministers – two Conservatives and two Liberals – are speaking out against proposed legislative changes they say will lead to irreparable damage to fish habitat.
“They are totally watering down and emasculating the Fisheries Act,” said Tom Siddon, who was fisheries minister for Conservative former prime minister Brian Mulroney from 1985 to 1990. “They are really taking the guts out of the Fisheries Act and it’s in devious little ways if you read all the fine print ... they are making a Swiss cheese out of [it].” (From the Globe and Mail)
The federal government is sabotaging its own legislated requirement to protect endangered freshwater fish by weakening the Fisheries Act, Canadian scientists say in a letter to be sent to the Harper government Tuesday.
The revisions would mean that the majority of freshwater fish and up to 80 per cent of the 71 freshwater species at risk of extinction would lose protection, according to the letter from the 1,000-strong Canadian Society For Ecology and Evolution (CSEE) provided exclusively to the Vancouver Sun. (From the Vancouver Sun)
Polls repeatedly show Canadians value honesty, accountability and kindness - attributes that are completely missing these days from the federal government's approach to the environment.
A case in point is the government's sweeping budget bill. Tabled on April 26th Bill C-38 dedicates over a third of its 420 pages to rolling back environ-mental legislation that generations of Canadians have fought to establish. Written with no public consultation, the bill wages war on: laws that protect our air and water, regulations to safeguard fish habitat, public participation in environmental assessments, and government oversight of large industrial projects. (From the Vancouver Sun)
Government plans to cut environmental reviews of major projects in Canada have many of my constituents calling my office to express their concern.
Many of those calling have talked about their own struggles as environmental activists: those who have worked to rehabilitate the Cowichan River; others who fought to keep development away from vulnerable habitat like the Somenos Marsh; others who spoke about the need to conserve our water sources and the natural systems that support them. (From canada.com)
Suppose for a moment that Canada were to pass a law saying that humans were protected but not the air, water and land around them. Suppose further that that law would say that certain kinds of humans were protected — perhaps those of us who contribute most to the economy or entertainment industry. But not all humans. It’s unthinkable, isn’t it?
The Canadian government’s campaign of intimidation of environmental charities has begun to create a chill among charities who wish to participate in public-policy debates, according to a respected national representative of charities known as Imagine Canada.
Even during hearings of the House of Commons finance committee into how this country can promote more charitable giving, the board members of some charities expressed concerns about making presentations, says Marcel Lauzière, Imagine Canada’s president and chief executive officer. (From the Globe and Mail)
On May 9th, iPolitics convened the latest webcast panel discussion in our series examining timely public policy challenges.
For our 14th panel, we heard finance, trade industry and environmental law experts explore the pros and cons of the Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act, also known as Bill C-38. (From iPolitics)
Why environmental groups are protesting changes to federal environmental law. (From CBC's Ottawa Morning)
The Harper government is giving a wide range of new powers to cabinet ministers to decide the scope of environmental assessments, as it proceeds with an omnibus budget bill that overhauls the way Ottawa will review major resource projects.
Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver has promoted the legislative changes as providing greater certainty to investors keen to develop Canada’s vast resources. But in some major ways, the government will make the system more opaque and subject to ministerial discretion. (From the Globe and Mail)
A coalition of Canadian environmental groups launched a campaign Monday against what they call the federal government’s “attack on nature and democracy.”
The groups, which include Sierra Club Canada, Équiterre, the David Suzuki Foundation, Environmental Defence and WWF Canada, among others, want organizations, businesses and citizens to black out their websites on June 4 and speak out publicly against changes included in the federal government’s budget bill. (From the Montreal Gazette)
The federal government is on the hook for billions of dollars to fix problems caused by lax environmental regulation in the past, according to a new audit.
Ottawa is looking at $7.7-billion in cleanup costs for contaminated sites, but has only set aside a fraction of the necessary funding, Environment Commissioner Scott Vaughan found.
As the government reforms the environmental assessment process, it's worth remembering the high price of slipshod oversight from previous decades, Mr. Vaughan said at a news conference Tuesday. (From the Canadian Press via the Globe and Mail)
Canadian conservation groups have launched an anti-budget campaign condemning federal changes that they say will weaken the country’s environmental safeguards.
Organizations including the David Suzuki Foundation, Greenpeace and Equiterre have banded together to oppose what they call a Conservative attack on nature and democracy.
In a series of ads today, they’re calling on Canadians to black out their websites on June 4 to voice their disapproval for the omnibus federal budget bill that contains sweeping environmental provisions. (From the Canadian Press via Metro News)