OTTAWA — Ecojustice issued the following statement about the federal government’s plans for reviewing Canada’s environmental laws to restore credibility to the environmental assessment process:
Devon Page, executive director said:
“We are pleased to see the federal government take promising steps toward improving Canada’s environmental laws, including plans to appoint independent panels to conduct public reviews of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and National Energy Board Act.
While we await further detail on what the upcoming process will entail and the composition of the expert panels, we urge the federal government to consider that the credibility and, ultimately, the success of these reviews will turn on who is selected to sit on the panels. Appointing the right people is absolutely key.
Other critical components to the success of these reviews include: Public access to the panel process, funding to enable meaningful public participation, and transparency in panel information gathering and reporting.
We’re also pleased to see that there will be parallel reviews of the Fisheries Act and Navigable Protection Act, two pieces of legislation that are crucial to protecting the ecological health of Canada’s oceans and waterways.
A mere repeal of 2012’s repeals, however, will not deliver the modernized environmental laws Canada needs to protect nature, our health, and our communities from threats posed by climate change, biodiversity loss and sub-standard pollution regulation.
Canada has some of the worst environmental laws in the world. The review process announced today signifies progress, but in order to be a true success, it must also result in a departure from business as usual.”
In 2012, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act was gutted, in effect exempting from review thousands of projects that would have been subject to an assessment due to their significant environmental impact. The National Energy Board Act was also amended to narrow the scope of project reviews, restrict public participation, and strip the regulator of its decision-making power.
Further changes to the Fisheries Act and Navigable Waters Protection Act weakened protections for fish habitat and left 99 per cent of Canada’s lakes and rivers unprotected.