Media Release

Green Budget Coalition Opposes Using Budget Process to Weaken Environmental Protection Laws

Apr 21 2010

OTTAWA--The Green Budget Coalition (GBC), comprising 21 of Canada's leading environmental and conservation organizations, today denounced the use of omnibus federal budget legislation to weaken Canada's environmental protection laws. The 2010 budget bill, the Jobs and Economic Growth Act (Bill C-9), proposes weakening changes to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) and regulations, one year after the 2009 Budget Implementation Act weakened the Navigable Waters Protection Act (NWPA). Many of the proposed changes in Bill C-9 were not mentioned in the Speech from the Throne nor in the text of the 2010 Budget.  However, they are now buried in the budget implementation bill and are therefore implicitly backed by the threat of an election.

"The budget should not be used as a mechanism for weakening Canada's environmental protection laws," explained Barry Turner, Chair of the GBC.

"These environmental laws are essential for improving Canadians' well-being and achieving sustainability, by reconciling economic, social and environmental elements of development projects.  Any proposed changes to these laws should be thoroughly reviewed by the House of Commons Environment Committee, and separately voted upon by parliamentarians, without an election hanging in the balance."

The CEAA contains a statutory provision for a review, scheduled to begin in June 2010. By making amendments to the CEAA part of the budget bill (always a confidence vote), the Government is effectively preempting the stakeholder consultation process involved in a standard parliamentary review by forcing MPs to either accept the amendments as part of the budget or else trigger an election. This leaves no room for the full discussion, consultation and debate that these amendments deserve and would otherwise receive.

"In the interest of transparency and accountability, these proposed changes to the CEAA should be fully subject to proper review," added Mr. Turner.

The Green Budget Coalition has been active since 1999. Its detailed 2010 budget recommendations are contained in Recommendations for Budget 2010: Investing in a Prosperous Green Future.

The Green Budget Coalition's members are Bird Studies Canada, Canadian Environmental Law Association, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Centre for Integral Economics, David Suzuki Foundation, Ducks Unlimited Canada, Ecojustice Canada, Environmental Defence, Équiterre, Friends of the Earth Canada, Greenpeace Canada, International Institute for Sustainable Development, MiningWatch Canada, Nature Canada, Nature Conservancy of Canada, Pembina Institute, Pollution Probe, Sierra Club Canada, Social Investment Organization, Wildlife Habitat Canada, and WWF-Canada.

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For more information, please contact:

Barry Turner, Chair, 613-565-5294, b_turner@ducks.ca (parle français)
Andrew Van Iterson, Manager, 613-562-8208 x.243, avaniterson@naturecanada.ca

www.greenbudget.ca

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