Feds systematically gut environmental protection

Publication Source: Star Pheonix
Author: Paul Hanley

Did the support of 24 per cent of the electorate on election day give the federal government a mandate for its radical project to gut environmental protection? Apparently. In our apathy-inducing first-past-the-post political system a small minority can translate into a big majority, which can disregard public opinion and do whatever it wants.

Here is a list of what the feds have accomplished so far in their three-pronged environmental strategy of deregulation, cutting information and research and targeting dissenting voices:

  1. Eliminated Canada’s international commitment to mitigate climate change, including the repeal of the 2007 Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act.
  2. Undermined global climate negotiations to avoid climate action.
  3. Failed to create a plan to address climate change.
  4. Eliminated energy conservation and efficiency and renewable energy funding while continuing subsidies to fossil fuels.
  5. Eliminated funding for the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences.
  6. Eliminated the climate adaptation research group within Environment Canada.
  7. Eliminated scientists in Natural Resources Canada to study ice core data.
  8. Cut hundreds of millions of dollars from Environment Canada.
  9. Repealed the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, weakening the federal environmental assessment process.
  10. Eliminated accepted criteria for compulsory environmental assessments, leaving such reviews to the discretion of the Minister of the Environment and political appointees.
  11. Eliminated the jobs of hundreds of scientists working for various government departments that focus on the environment and wildlife.
  12. Weakened elements of the Species at Risk Act.
  13. Amended the Species at Risk Act and Navigable Waters Protection Act to allow the National Energy Board to assume jurisdiction of endangered species or navigable waters in the way of any pipeline.
  14. Allowing the federal cabinet, rather than the National Energy Board, to make decisions about approvals for major pipeline projects.
  15. Introduced cuts to ozone monitoring.
  16. Ended monitoring of smoke stack emissions.
  17. Eliminated the Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission.
  18. Weakened the Fisheries Act in the areas of habitat protection and eliminated the marine contaminants program.
  19. Fired all DFO habitat officers in British Columbia.
  20. Killed the Navigable Waters Protection Act, replacing it with the Navigation Protection Act, which effectively makes major pipeline and interprovincial power line projects exempt from requirements for proponents to prove they wouldn’t damage navigable waterways.
  21. Reduced federal protection of waterways to a small number of water bodies and rivers.
  22. Parks Canada no longer has to conduct periodic environmental audits or management plan reviews.
  23. Eliminated funding for the National Round Table on the Economy and the Environment.
  24. Eliminated support for the Experimental Lakes Program.
  25. Eliminated funding for a dozen Arctic science research stations. Closed the Polar Arctic and Environmental Laboratory and the Yukon Research Lab.
  26. Started privatization and eliminated ecological staff positions in National Parks.
  27. Made a systemic effort to cut research, information and analysis with respect to environmental issues.
  28. Attacked environmental and First Nations organizations for critiquing resource development.
  29. Provided the Canada Revenue Agency with an extra $8 million to crack down on environmental charities.
  30. Provided oil companies with unprecedented access to senior government leaders.
  31. Muzzled government scientists who have been conducting research on various climate and environmental issues.
  32. Cut funding to the Network on Women’s Health and the Environment.
  33. Cut funding of the Canadian Environmental Network.
  34. In addition to changing the definition of “aboriginal fishery” in the Fisheries Act, without consulting First Nations governments introduced changes to the Indian Act designed to make it faster and easier for First Nations to “take advantage of economic opportunities” by leasing designated reserve lands based on a majority of votes from those in attendance at a meeting or in a referendum, instead of waiting for a majority vote from all eligible voters.
  35. Gave the aboriginal affairs minister the authority to call a band meeting or referendum for the purpose of considering a surrender of the band’s territory.
  36. The minister can accept or refuse the land designation after receiving a resolution from the band council.
  37. Eliminated the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration, the Indian Head Tree Nursery and the PFRA pasture management program on millions of acres of sensitive grasslands.
  38. Provided unprecedented support to industries to exploit natural resources with minimal environmental oversight.

Originally printed in the Star Pheonix.