November 2012 Bulletin

New Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement Released

After eight years of consideration, a new 2012 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA) Protocol was released in June. CELA has promoted public involvement in the GLWQA for several decades. CELA served on the Stakeholder Advisory Committee to the Canadian negotiators for several years and in other activities leading to this release.

Unlike the previous Agreement, this Protocol focuses on principles, goals and objectives while leaving specifics to soon-to-be-established committees. ENGOs around the Basin have been meeting to define and communicate their expectations for the process, as well as the 10 individual Agreement Annexes. CELA received a grant from the Salamander Foundation that enables us to coordinate the activist working group on Annex 3 Chemicals of Mutual Concern. This group will draft a roadmap for action on these diverse and ever growing threats to the ecosystem. CELA has made numerous submissions on the challenges of the growing list of new chemical threats to the Great Lakes.

We welcome your participation. For more information, contact Sarah Miller millers@lao.on.ca or by calling 416 960-2284 x213. CELA will also be attending consultations on the drafting of a new Canada Ontario Agreement setting out shared programs and priorities between the Federal and Provincial governments.

 Sarah May Lindsay awarded 2012 Michelle’s Prize scholarship

Sarah May Lindsay received the first “Michelle’s Prize” scholarship at a celebration at Toronto’s Gladstone Hotel on November 22nd. Ms. Lindsay, an animal rights activist specializing in animal ethics, is completing her undergraduate Environmental Studies degree at York University and plans to go to graduate school. The “Michelle’s Prize” scholarship was established to honour Michelle Swenarchuk, former CELA Executive Director who passed away in 2008. Friends of Michelle contributed over $21,000 to the scholarship fund. Six scholarships for students specializing in environmental studies and environmental law will be awarded through York University and the University of Saskatchewan in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

CELA’s submission to the Canada-China Foreign Investment Protection Agreement

In November, CELA made a submission to the federal government's consultation process for the final environmental assessment of the Canada-China Foreign Investment Protection Agreement (FIPA). In this submission, CELA highlighted both the deep flaws of the strategic environmental assessment process for international trade and investment agreements as well as the major risks posed to environmental and health regulation by the agreement's investor-state dispute settlement mechanism. Such mechanisms allow individual investors to sue a Party (signatory country) for measures that limit their reasonable expectation of profits, and that do not fit within the agreement's narrow exceptions. Similar provisions in other trade agreements, particularly NAFTA, have been disproportionally used to challenge Canadian environmental and health protection measures.

Green Budget Coalition releases recommendations

The Green Budget Coalition (GBC), which brings together 20 of Canada’s leading environmental and conservation organizations, recently released its Recommendations for Budget 2013 document. The document call for the federal government’s 2013 Budget to protect existing environmental capacity, including science, policy and programs, and includes feature recommendations such as extending program funding for species at risk legislation; investing for healthy communities, economies, and environments; providing energy cost relief; and reforming fossil fuel subsidies.

Kyra Bell-Pasht presents on community right-to-know

In November, CELA lawyer Kyra Bell-Pasht made a presentation about the community right-to-know legislation in Toronto’s West End. The presentation was made at a public community meeting that was organized to inform residents about the G.E. Hitachi uranium processing facility that has been located since the 1960s in the city's increasingly gentrified Junction neigbhourhood.

Mega Quarry Proposal Withdrawn; Provincial Policy Statement Needs Reform

CELA salutes the broad coalition of farmers, foodies, citizen and environmental groups that worked so hard to stop the massive quarry proposed for prime agricultural land in southern Ontario. We played an early role in this challenge by urging the Environment Minister to ensure that key factors be included in draft terms of reference for the site environmental assessment. Ongoing work is needed to ensure revisions to Ontario’s Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) under the Planning Act concerning aggregate extraction. CELA has been working closely with a coalition of provincial ENGOs on PPS reform, and worked with Ecojustice to submit a joint brief to the Ontario government. On aggregate extraction matters, CELA and Ecojustice have asked for the following PPS reforms:

  • promotion of aggregate recycling and reduction of aggregate demand across the province; 
  • prohibition of new/expanded aggregate operations on certain lands and areas (i.e. prime agricultural lands, specialty crop areas, etc.); 
  • establishment of more stringent planning and environmental assessment requirements for new/expanded aggregate operations;
  • strengthening of long-term rehabilitation requirements for pits and quarries.

 Earlier this year, CELA also raised key land use planning issues in response to the provincial review of the Aggregate Resources Act.