We cannot develop sustainably without basic research in science, the environment and economics

On Friday, May 25th, 2018 in Debate, Parliament

Elizabeth May

Madam Speaker, I thank my friend from Edmonton Strathcona for her tireless work on environment and climate issues.

I want to ask my colleague about the potential to find something positive in the bill.

I have been just appalled by the lack of advisory bodies for the Liberal government. Let me give a quick review. We used to have in Canada the Economic Council of Canada, which existed from 1963 until the 1990s. The Science Council of Canada existed from the 1960s until the early 1990s. The Canadian Environmental Advisory Council existed from the early 1970s to the early 1990s. All three were abolished in the early 1990s, because the government created the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy. We were told that we did not need the Economic Council, the Science Council, or the Environmental Advisory Council anymore, because we had the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, which, in the spring of 2012, was killed in the Conservative omnibus budget bill, Bill C-38.

Nobody seems to be aware of the paucity of basic research and the combining of themes around sustainable development that we used to take for granted.

This is a pretty weak instrument we have in proposed subsection 8(1) of this legislation. We have a Sustainable Development Advisory Council, which I think has potential, but it has to be properly funded. The Liberal government needs to see the potential to replace all those bodies we used to have that gave us good advice.

I wonder if my friend from Edmonton Strathcona thinks that is something we should push ahead with in Bill C-57.

Linda Duncan Member for Edmonton Stratcona

Madam Speaker, what my colleague did not mention is that the Conservative government also got rid of the Law Reform Commission. I was advising it on environmental laws at the time the government struck it off, too. It would be nice to bring back all of those entities.

It is a vacuous opportunity to advise on a bill that is not a strong bill. It would be important that UNDRIP, the right to a clean, healthy environment, and the right to environmental justice be principles in the legislation and that UNDRIP be made binding. Those who sit on the advisory council could then hold the government’s feet to the fire on the fact that it was not delivering on those binding obligations.

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