Dear Friends and Supporters,
It’s not too late to have your say – the deadline for submissions relating to the Government of Canada’s “Environmental and Regulatory Reviews: Discussion Paper” is now extended to September 15.
The House of Commons sits in a week’s time, meaning the government can introduce legislation on Environmental Assessment this fall. We have our best opportunity now to undo the colossal damage wrought under Stephen Harper through two unprecedented omnibus bills passed in 2012, C-38 and C-45. These bills debilitated both the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) and the Fisheries Act, severely weakened public trust in the National Energy Board (NEB), and withdrew protection from more than 99% of Canada’s inland waterways in the Navigable Waters Protection Act (NWPA).
The Liberals came to power on a platform that promised to reverse these changes. I have advocated for the restoration of environmental laws to their condition before 2006, followed by a comprehensive update. Ignoring the solid foundation of the pre-2006 environmental assessment rubric, the Trudeau administration opted instead for consultation rather than action.
I understand that repairing damage to legislation can be slow, painful and potentially futile. But there have been files on which the Trudeau administration has found success in rewriting, and thereby successfully updating, laws that Harper repealed or gutted. Unfortunately, this particular rewrite of environmental legislation looks to have sunk in a sea of consultations.
In late June, the government released a discussion paper on the findings of its environmental and regulatory reviews of the CEAA, the NEB, the Fisheries Act, and the NWPA. The discussion paper reduced hundreds of pages of detailed recommendations compiled by two expert panels and two parliamentary committees in separate exercises to a 23-page document heavy on graphics, but short on specifics. Though designed to look as if the government will accept most of these recommendations, on key issues the government will maintain Harper-era legislation. Of particular concern are the unmitigated powers of the NEB and the continued weakness of the NWPA. Simply put, the solutions described by this discussion paper are fundamentally unworkable.
We can and must repair Canada’s environmental protections. With the deadline for public comment now extended to September 15, we have the time to do this. I have laid out my concerns in my September newsletter as well as in a formal submission you can read here. There you will also find a point by point comparison between recommendations from the consultations and the government’s response, where one exists.
I strongly encourage you to speak out against the timid vision put forward in this discussion paper, to embolden this government to hold to their campaign promises. Unless C-38 and C-45 are massively over-hauled, the devastation to Canada’s fisheries, resources, and waterways will be unimaginable.
Elizabeth May, O.C.
Member of Parliament
Saanich – Gulf Islands
Leader of the Green Party of Canada