Media Release

Environmental Law Organizations Cannot Support the Canadian Environmental Protection Act Reform Bill, Call on Commons Environment Committee for Re-write

Jun 02 1998

Toronto and Ottawa. In a presentation to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development this morning, the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) and the Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and Policy (CIELAP) stated that they cannot support the passage of Bill C-32, the proposed Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) without major amendments."The Bill is supposed to attack the issue of toxic pollution in Canada. The real effect of the bill though may be to legitimize the continued use or generation of the most dangerous toxics known, like PCBs and dioxins", Paul Muldoon, CELA's Executive Director, told the Standing Committee. "The Bill, as currently drafted, also represents a significant step backwards for the existing Act in a number of other key areas, such as the regulation of products of biotechnology, and in particular, genetically engineered crops, fish and pesticides" stated Mark Winfield, CIELAP's Director of Research. Dr. Winfield added that "this occurs at a time when the evidence of serious environmental problems associated with these products is growing." According to the organizations, Bill C-32 incorporates key elements of the 'Canada-Wide Accord on Environmental Harmonization' signed by the federal and provincial ministers of the Environment in January 1998, to devolve many of the federal government's environmental responsibilities to the provinces. If these components are added to the federal government's framework of environmental legislation, it will become virtually impossible for the government of Canada to take independant action to protect Canadians' health and environment. "The Standing Committee's report on the enforcement of federal environmental laws, and the report of the Commissioner on Environment and Sustainable Development, both tabled last week, make it clear that the environmental direction of the federal government must change if the health and environment of present and future generations of Canadians is to be secured. Bill C-32 has to be re-written if it is to meet this challenge" concluded Mr. Muldoon.- 30 -For more information:Paul Muldoon, CELA, 416-960-2284Mark Winfield, CIELAP, (416) 923-3529