Media Release

Federal Budget Signals Attack on Canada's Environmental Laws

Mar 29 2012

Toronto - The Harper government’s budget contains vague and unacceptable proposals which are likely to significantly weaken Canada’s environmental laws, says the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA).

“We are astounded that the budget erroneously suggests that the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act is merely ‘red tape’,” said Richard Lindgren, staff lawyer at CELA. “In fact, this important legislation is intended to protect public health, prevent ecological harm, and promote environmentally sustainable development. It is not ‘red tape’, as claimed by the Harper government.”

While providing few specific details, the budget describes the Harper government’s intention to:

  • “streamline” the federal environmental assessment process for major projects;
  • “substitute” provincial environmental assessment processes for the federal environmental assessment process;
  • “reduce” alleged overlap and duplication across federal and provincial governments; and
  • “reduce” the so-called “regulatory burden” imposed by Canada’s current environmental law framework.

“This policy direction appears to be primarily intended to expedite large-scale projects, such as mines, pipelines and oilsands development, without adequate environmental scrutiny or safeguards at the federal level,” said Theresa McClenaghan, Executive Director of CELA. “Federal environmental laws need to be strengthened – not “streamlined” – to ensure that the impacts of such projects do not threaten present and future generations of Canadians.”

“The budget’s proposals appear to be based upon recommendations made two weeks ago by the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development,” added Mr. Lindgren. “In our view, this is most unfortunate since the Committee’s recommendations are deeply flawed and highly unpersuasive.”

For more information on the Committee’s proposed changes to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, please visit:
CELA's analysis of the Committee's proposals
March 27/12 Letter to Prime Minister Harper

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