Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development (ENVI)

The committee met twice this week, in camera.

On March 6th, the committee resumed consideration of a draft report on the statutory review of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. The committee agreed that the report be adopted as amended and it was ordered that the chair present the report to the house. Interestingly, it was also agreed

That the Committee append to its report supplementary and/or dissenting opinions from members of the Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party provided that they be no more than five (5) pages in length and submitted electronically to the Clerk of the Committee in both official languages, no later than Friday, March 9, 2012, at 12:00 p.m. (noon).

Although it remains to be seen what recommendations are tabled in the report, many critics fear that the government intends to gut the Act of its federal environmental assessment requirements to pave the way for a less regulated neoliberal model of economic development. The committee’s review of the Act was abruptly terminated in late November before many groups had a chance to appear before the committee.

For a critical view of these developments, click here.

On March 8th,  the committee began a study on a National Conservation Plan for Canada. The committee witnesses were Michael Keenan, Assistant Deputy Minister in Environment Canada, Robert McLean from the Habitat and Ecosystem Conservation division, and Mike Wong from Parks Canada. The committee outlined key issues that will need to be addressed in the study including guiding principles, areas of focus, outcome metrics, specific programs, and implementation strategies.  Parks Canada and Environment Canada witnesses provided the committee with updates regarding Canada’s progress on its conservation commitments and the committee also compiled a list of the different groups from which to call witnesses for the upcoming study. These groups include aboriginal groups, industry, ENGOs, conservation groups, anglers and hunters, academics and experts, and all levels of government.