Federal Budget Bill Will Weaken Canada's Environmental Laws

Apr 26 2012

Toronto - The budget legislation (Bill C-38) introduced today by the Harper Government will seriously erode Canada’s environmental protection laws, according to the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA).

The Harper Government is proposing to repeal the existing Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, and to replace it with a less rigorous, more uncertain, and highly discretionary environmental assessment process. This proposal, if enacted, will severely reduce the number, scope, and credibility of federal environmental assessments of risk-laden projects across Canada.

The Harper Government is also proposing to repeal the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, and to make sweeping changes to other key federal laws, including the Fisheries Act, Canadian Environmental Protection Act, and Species at Risk Act.

“These legislative rollbacks are completely unjustified and unacceptable, and they undermine the environmental safety net that has existed in law for decades,” stated CELA staff lawyer Richard Lindgren. “It is highly ironic that the Harper Government is now trying to abolish the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, which was first enacted by the Mulroney Government in 1992.”

“We are particularly alarmed by the proposed constraints on public participation in environmental hearings on significant projects, such as nuclear facilities, oil and gas development, or inter-provincial pipelines,” said Theresa McClenaghan, CELA Executive Director. “Federal environmental assessment should not be reduced to a superficial or rushed review of projects which pose risks to present and future generations of Canadians.”

“Given the complexity and controversial nature of these proposals, it is wholly inappropriate to bury these ill-conceived changes in a 420 page budget bill,” added Mr. Lindgren.

For more information about proposed changes to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, please go to: http://www.cela.ca/collections/justice/canadian-environmental-assessment-act

For further information, please contact:
Richard Lindgren (CELA Counsel) 613-385-1686
Theresa McClenaghan (CELA Counsel and Executive Director) 416-960-2284, ext.219