Media Release

CELA Considers Legal Options Over Proposed Environmental Harmonization Accord

Jan 28 1998

In a letter forwarded to Environment Minister Christine Stewart, the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) informed her that it is considering legal options to challenge the proposed Environmental Harmonization Accord. Ministers are scheduled to sign the ‘National Accord on Environmental Harmonization' at a meeting of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) that begins tomorrow. The Accord, and its accompanying sub-agreements, if signed, will turn the environmental responsibilities of the federal government over to the provinces in such key areas as environmental assessment, the establishment of national environmental standards, and the enforcement of federal environmental laws. "The proposed accord raises very interesting legal issues. In our view, there are grounds to bring a judicial review action and we may have no choice but to proceed with such an action." said Paul Muldoon, counsel with Canadian Environmental Law Association, who is attending the CCME meeting as an observer. Earlier this month, a letter signed by Chairpersons, Presidents and Executive Directors of more than 60 of Canada's leading environmental, labour, aboriginal and public health organizations was delivered to Prime Minister Chretien, asking that he not proceed with the harmonization agreement. Less than four months ago, the Supreme Court of Canada declared that the protection of the environment was ‘one of the greatest challenges of our time' and confirmed federal jurisdiction to protect the environment. "Just as the Supreme Court confirmed federal jurisdiction, the federal government now wants to hand its environmental role to the provinces," noted Muldoon.- 30 -For more information:Paul Muldoon, 416-960-2284