Call to Action: Urgent Engagement Needed to Secure Environmental Reforms

On Thursday, August 17th, 2017 in Press Releases, Publications

Dear Friends and Supporters,

I am writing to inform you that the government looks set to quietly backtrack on their promise to fix our environmental laws. But, it’s not too late to do something about it!

A few months ago, the government undermined the recommendations of the Committee on Electoral Reform. Now, they are almost entirely ignoring the recommendations of not one, but two expert panels on environmental assessment.

The previous government caused devastating damage to the protections we had in place to safeguard our environment, along with the rights of Indigenous communities who are often the first line of defence against environmentally-destructive projects. Their government’s omnibus budget bills C-38 and C-45 were responsible for gutting many of these protections. Now, it appears the current government is set to break their promise to reverse this mess.

As you may recall, I spent 24 straight hours in the House of Commons in 2012, after having tabled 400 amendments to bill C-38. Not a single amendment was accepted by the majority government of the day.

Fast forward 3 years and the Liberals promised to fix all of that. But now they’re quietly backing down. In a 23-page publicly available discussion paper released in late June, the government laid out a lacklustre position on issues relating to environmental protection, offering Canadians until August 28th to weigh in.

The environmental reforms promised by the government are shaping up to little more than half-measures, or worse.  My main concerns are:

  • The government’s rejection of the National Energy Board (NEB) expert panel’s recommendations, which called for a complete overhaul of the NEB. It will remain in Calgary under its current composition despite the sound advice of the costly panel to seriously reform it and move it to Ottawa.
  • The government’s rejection of the Environmental Assessment (EA) expert panel’s recommendation to convert the Environmental Assessment Agency into a quasi-judicial board, with the sole authority for conducting EA. The government now proposes that the C-38 regime of energy projects going to the NEB, Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and offshore boards will largely remain in place.
  • The government’s decision to maintain the previous government’s destruction of the Navigable Waters Protection Act (NWPA), instead relying on jurisdictions to apply on a case-by-case basis to restore previously-held protections to waterways. Rather than restoring the NWPA to its previous stature, 99% of Canadian lakes, rivers and streams will remain unprotected from industrial projects.

I urge all Canadians to submit their comments at discussionpaper.ca before August 28,to compel this administration to adopt all of the expert panels’ recommendations for these desperately needed environmental reforms.

Thank you for helping me hold the government accountable to its promises. Together, we can achieve a Canada that does not pit resource extraction industries against the protection of our shared environment.

Sincerely,

 

Elizabeth May, O.C.
Member of Parliament
Saanich-Gulf Islands
Leader of the Green Party of Canada

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