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Advocating for modernized environmental laws

June 7, 2018

Although Canada has a reputation as a generally progressive and green nation, many of the statutes we count on to defend nature, combat climate change and fight for a healthy environment have not kept pace with the times and are ill-equipped to deal with modern threats, like climate change.

In 2012, the then-federal government significantly weakened Canada’s environmental legal framework. These amendments removed environmental safeguards in the Fisheries Act that virtually eliminated fish habitat protection — the most important factor responsible for the decline and loss of fish including our commercial fish stocks. They also gutted the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, exempting thousands of projects from review. The National Energy Board Act was amended to narrow the scope of project reviews, restrict public participation, and strip the regulator of its decision-making power. They also made significant changes to what was then known as the Navigable Waters Protection Act by drastically reducing the protections given to navigable waters in Canada and eliminating environmental assessment requirements.

That’s why when the Liberals swept into power in 2015 promising to restore public trust in environmental decision-making, engage in nation-to-nation relations with Indigenous communities, and take action on climate change by reviewing Canada’s key environmental laws, we jumped at the opportunity to take part in the process.

All this work reached its peak in February 2018 when the federal government tabled two environmental reform bills. Bill C-69 would replace the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act with a new Impact Assessment Act and the National Energy Board Act with a new Canadian Energy Regulator Act. It would also amend the Navigation Protection Act. Bill C-68 proposes amendments to the Fisheries Act.

In June 2019, both these bills were passed into law.

Over the course of two years, we worked with a coalition of partners and met with lawmakers on Parliament Hill, urging them to ‘get it right’ and enact strong laws that will protect Canadians and the environment.

When a new federal government took steps to review our environmental laws, we knew this was a once-in-a-generation opportunity to not only repeal the 2012 rollbacks but to deliver the modernized set of environmental laws needed to protect nature, our health and our communities.

Canada needs strong, enforceable, and well-implemented environmental laws that will better protect Canadians and the environment for generations to come.

Ecojustice staff

Josh Ginsberg

Jun 2019
press release

Statement: Bill C-69 clears final hurdle, becomes law

Ottawa, June 21, 2019 – Last night, Bill C-69 cleared its final hurdle when it passed the in Senate, and it will now become law.
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press release

Statement: Modernized Fisheries Act gives new protections to marine ecosystems

Ottawa June 17,  2019 – Ecojustice welcomes the passing of Bill C-68 as a progressive step in putting ecosystem protection at the heart of fisheries legislation.
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The rooftops of Parliament Hill features the clock tower.

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Thanks to you, we’re on our way to having strong, enforceable environmental laws that better protect people and the planet.
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Bill C-9 environmental assessment
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OTTAWA – Law experts are calling Bill C-69, passed by the House of Commons today, a significant step toward better protections for Canadians and the environment.
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Joshua Ginsberg sits in a large conference room near a microphone.

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Stepping into a courtroom to advocate for nature is never easy.
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Parliament Hill is lit up at dusk. The water around reflects the building's lights.

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