Intervenor: Vol 25. No 1 January - March 2000

Toxic Environment - Executive Director Report: CELA sees the effects of government cuts to environmental protection

It is both a busy and exciting time at CELA these days. By the time this Intervenor reaches you, CELA and the Ontario College of Family Physicians (Environment Committee) will have released their long awaited study on Environmental Standard Setting and Children's Health. The study covers both federal and Ontario standard-setting regimes in relation to children's health. Without being modest, this is perhaps the most in-depth treatment of the subject in Canada to date. The study will be fully accessible on the CELA website.

This is part of our plan to make our analyses of environmental issues more accessible to the general public by using the Internet. Some CELA members and some in the media are now receiving our monthly "E-Bulletin" of current CELA news of cases we are involved in and law reform issues we are working on. The CELA E-Bulletin includes announcements of new briefs and reports. If you are a member of CELA, or a member of the media, and have not been receiving the E-Bulletin, please make sure we have your correct e-mail address.

Another event worthy of note is CELA's 30th Anniversary. CELA was founded in 1970 and it only seems appropriate that an opportunity is given to reflect on the successes and contributions of CELA's past and existing staff, board members, supporters and friends. More details will follow in the next Intervenor, and it should be a lot of fun.

In addition to these initiatives, CELA has been busy in the courts and tribunals. In particular, CELA will be in the Federal Court of Appeal on June 5, 2000 to argue the legality of the Canada-Wide Accord on Environmental Harmonization.

There is real pressure from the public and NGOs in Ontario for CELA to take on even more cases. In fact, it is with dismay that we simply cannot handle all of the requests for representation. The increasing litigation workload continues to reflect the fact that citizens are feeling the effects of government downsizing. People are now resorting to the courts and tribunals as a means of dealing with their environmental problems. CELA intends to do everything it can to handle as many cases as possible. It will also continue its campaign for governments to restore their capacity to protect the environment and develop the laws, regulation and policies that would prevent environmental problems in the first place.

Paul Muldoon is a lawyer at CELA