Staff Blog

Environment commissioner hammers Canada’s pesticide management regime

Guest Blog

Federal inaction exposes Canadians, environment to unacceptable risks, report says

A Tax Credit for Radon Remediation: Logical Next Step for Feds

Faced with a seemingly infinite number of environmental health issues to work on at CELA, we make choices. Guided by population health approaches, we focus attention on issues where the stakes are high and large numbers of people are affected. Radon qualifies.

There is no debate that radon causes cancer. It kills about 3300 Canadians a year and that’s a lot. Compared to other indoor pollutants, and using cancer risk lingo, the “lifetime excess cancer risk” from radon is orders of magnitude greater.

The Resurrection of Federal Environmental Assessment?

Over two years ago, CELA published an “in memoriam” blog to lament the untimely demise of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 1992 (“CEAA”), which had been repealed and replaced in 2012 with much weaker legislation.

The CELA blog ended with the hope that “a new and improved federal EA regime will soon be resurrected from the ashes.” Fortunately, it now appears that this plea may be answered in the coming months.

Can Words Protect Lakes?

My summer of 2015 included numerous fishing trips with family and friends on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. While we were often rewarded with fishing success, I constantly saw reminders of the diverse threats to aquatic ecosystem health.

For example, invasive species were omnipresent, from round gobies nibbling on bait, to spiny water fleas clogging up fishing line, to zebra mussels covering the lakebed, to the lamprey still attached to a salmon that I reeled to the boat.

The Truth on Canada’s Cosmetic Regulations from a Young Consumer

As Canadian consumers we expect to be protected by the administrative powers of our Federal Government. This holds especially true for young consumers (adolescents and children) because of our physical and psychological vulnerability. We assume we are being looked after by our older, wiser counterparts. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. The safety of consumers is often overlooked by the cosmetics industry, and because of Canada’s untimely and unenforced cosmetic regulations, the safety of consumers is sometimes compromised.

Don't bee fooled: neonics are still toxic to honeybees

Did you hear that the honeybee crisis is over? This bold and surprising pronouncement appeared in Margaret Wente's July 22 Globe and Mail column, ""Good news: There is no honeybee crisis":http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/good-news-there-is-no-honeybee-crisis/article25634384/". Wente cites the latest survey statistics from the Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists, which indicate fewer losses of Canadian honeybee colonies this past winter than the previous one.

Governments Action to Protect the Great Lakes Basin from toxic chemicals failing

The Great Lakes are enjoying an anniversary of sorts. It’s been almost three years since Canada and the United States signed a revised Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement with the intention of working together to make the lakes cleaner and safe for drinking. For over 40 million people who rely on the lakes, achieving these goals is essential. Unfortunately, though, our governments are not taking adequate action despite the fact that the Great Lakes remain under siege from an overwhelming number of polluting sources.

The Alternative Fuels Environmental Three-Step: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Mandate. What the dictionary defines variously as “an official order to do something”, an “authoritative command”, a “formal order”, a “directive to act”. That is what the Premier of Ontario issues in the form of a letter, a “mandate letter” every time a minister is appointed to government.

A Balanced Federal Budget Over the Long-Term

Finance Minister Joe Oliver today announced that Economic Action Plan 2015 will be tabled on April 21, 2015 and reiterated the Government of Canada’s commitment to a balanced budget.

The Green Budget Coalition has offered up some timely advice to make the necessary investments in protecting Canada’s environment and … … to secure balanced federal budgets over the long-term.

Yes, environmental stewardship is not only compatible, but essential for sustaining Canada’s economic prosperity and ensuring balanced federal budgets in the future. T

Keeping Lake Erie Viable as a Source of Drinking Water

  On the weekend of August 3, 2014, the people of Toledo woke up to find they couldn’t use their tap water. Ohio Governor, John Kasich, declared that Lake Erie was not fit to drink, and 400,000 people scrambled to find alternative sources. The reason: cyanotoxins, produced by blue-green algae blooming profusely in Lake Erie.

Theo Colborn 1927 - 2014

I suspect that most of you have heard by now that Theo Colborn died on Sunday at the age of 87. The book that she co-authored, Our Stolen Future, awoke the world to the devastating impacts of endocrine disruptors on wildlife and humans. Many people have referred to her as the second Rachel Carson, whose Silent Spring had woken us to the tragic effects of pesticides. As with Silent Spring, Our Stolen Future drew out the chemical industry in an unsuccessful effort to destroy her reputation.

Ontario Government Introduces Anti-SLAPP Bill

Twenty years ago CELA called for the introduction of legislation to address strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs) (See Intervenor: The Newsletter of the Canadian Environmental Law Association, Volume 19, Issue 4, July/August 1994). SLAPPs are civil lawsuits that are filed, often by large corporations, against individuals or local citizens’ groups for speaking out or taking a position on a matter of public interest.

Plastic Microbeads in Consumer Products – Growing concern in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin

On every hot summer day of my childhood, I walked two blocks down the street to Lake Ontario and splashed around. On those days, I couldn’t have imagined a future in which the lake would fill up with microbeads, tiny plastic particles that for the last two decades have been accumulating in lakes and oceans around the world. Particles so small they are almost invisible -- tiny but with big effects.

Antibacterial Chemicals are Polluting Our Waterways

Most people are unaware of how widespread triclosan and triclocarban chemicals are in their daily lives. Many products labelled as ‘antibacterial’, ‘fights odours’ or ‘kills germs’ may contain triclosan or tricocarban. In fact by 2001, 76% of commercial liquid hand soaps in the U.S. contained triclosan and a wide variety of cosmetics, drugs, clothes, school products and kitchenware also now contain this antibacterial chemical. Plastic products such as toys, toothbrushes, shower curtains and cutting boards may contain triclosan as well as mattresses, carpets, tents, and even garbage cans.

Federal Government Has Head in the Sand on Fracking and the NPRI

Webster’s Dictionary defines the ostrich as a bird that when pursued hides its head in the sand and believes itself to be unseen. The behaviour, according to Webster’s, is analogous to attempting to avoid difficulty by refusing to face it.

Triclosan and the Great Lakes

Dollars and Sense: Who Pays Costs in Public Interest Cases?

When an environmental class proceeding is unsuccessful, should the representative plaintiff be ordered to pay the defendant’s legal costs; if so, what is the appropriate amount of costs that should be payable?

Nuclear Emergency Planning Exercise at Darlington Message to Public: Trust Us

Giving new meaning to the phrase "trust us," provincial and federal authorities and nuclear operators are conducting a major emergency planning exercise at the Darlington nuclear plant without involving the public, as reported by CityTV on May 27, 2014. There are many things wrong with this picture, but not involving the public is the biggest mistake of all.

Arsenic in Drinking Water: Ontario’s Failure to Endorse Health Canada’s Guideline

Summary: Contaminated drinking water is a threat to public health and quality of life. Despite the fact that most arsenic in drinking water arises from natural sources, it is as important to regulate as industrial sources of any toxic substance. Drinking water contaminated with arsenic has been associated with developmental effects, cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurotoxicity, diabetes and even death.

Ontario's Living List - A Dead Thing?

The MOE Living List Framework Proposal