Intervenor: Vol 25. No 3 & 4 July-December 2000

Effects of Deregulation - Executive Director's Report

CELA keeping up with the times

Over the next year, there will be a number of changes in the way we communicate with our supporters. The Intervenor will be produced three times a year and will still provide an update on our casework, profile our campaigns and provide important information relating to environmental protection and natural resource use. Members will be canvassed and a hard copy of the Intervenor will be provided if so requested. In addition, the plan at the present time is to produce an annual published copy of the Intervenor that captures the core events and issues and provides a year in review.

The new Intervenor format will allow CELA to provide a more diverse set of communications tools. For example, the popularity of our e-mail bulletin has convinced us to institutionalize this tool and in fact expand it. The e-mail bulletin provides a brief update and review of very timely events in an electronic fashion. Of course, our goal is to have our website as the hub of CELA's communication strategy. Plans are underway to determine how best to rebuild and expand the present site. When the website was launched a few years ago, it was receiving about 100 visits per month. Now, it is receiving over 3000 visits per month.

These changes will not happen overnight. But they reflect the desire by CELA staff to better respond to the public demand for CELA's services. The information requests, public legal education demands, law reform efforts, casework and other areas of CELA are all on the rise and efforts must be made to ensure that we can deliver these services in a sustainable manner. It is difficult to overstate the level of commitment CELA staff has in their attempts to respond to these demands.

The demand on CELA is reflective of the rising interest and concern in environmental issues generally. When CELA teamed up with the Ontario College of Family Physicians (Environmental Health Committee) and released its children's health report, it hit a raw nerve of concern in the community. Whether pesticides, lead or bad air, it was evident that the Canadian public is very thirsty for credible, accessible and thought-invoking information. We hope to further this work with our health professional partners in the near future.

In addition to the varied cases CELA is taking on, CELA's participation in the Walkerton Inquiry on behalf of Concerned Walkerton Citizens has kept every one at CELA that much more busy. The Inquiry, which started on October 16, 2000, is expected to continue well into 2001. Clearly, this inquiry is an excellent opportunity to understand what went wrong in Walkerton (and we suspect could go wrong in many other communities) and how to develop a framework to ensure that the tragedy is never repeated. No doubt future editions of the Intervenor will provide more insight on this proceeding.

Finally, but not least important, CELA would like to thank David McLaren for all his hard work during his tenure at the clinic. David left CELA at the end of August and is now back at his home in Cape Croker. David can take credit for a number of significant changes at CELA with respect to our communications and media strategies. David must also be thanked for reminding us of the profound importance of First Nations' issues, particularly as they relate to environmental issues. We wish him well on his new endeavours and no doubt our paths will continue to cross in the future.

Paul Muldoon is a lawyer at CELA