Now is a crucial moment for Canada’s environmental laws. We’re making sure government gets it right when drafting legislation this winter.
For more than a year, the Ecojustice team has taken part in each step of the federal government’s processes to review key environmental laws. We’ve testified before standing committees, presented submissions to expert panels across the country, and met with legislators and bureaucrats about the Fisheries Act, the National Energy Board Act, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) and the Navigation Protection Act.
We weren’t the only ones calling on the government to make substantial changes to the way our environmental laws work. During the past couple months, more than 30,000 people like you took action to urge the federal government to deliver on its promise to strengthen these critical environmental laws.
But the work didn’t end there.
Last week, Ecojustice along with many other environmental organizations and community groups headed to Parliament Hill to make a final push before bills are introduced this winter and legislators sit down to start debating proposed revisions to these laws.
Ecojustice’s legal experts spend the majority of their time in court arguing over the minute details of the law. It’s this experience that gives us the unique perspective to comment on what needs to change to make our environmental laws stronger.
We’ve met with cabinet ministers, Senators, officials, and MPs of all political stripes with a simple message — it’s time to enact next-generation environmental laws that will protect our communities and the environment from pollution and toxics, confront climate change, regain public trust and build a sustainable future.
While it was a long three days, we’re happy to report that we are hopeful that our recommendations resonated with those that took the time to sit down and discuss the future of Canada’s environmental laws. Here is a brief breakdown of what we are asking government to do:
Parliament needs to enact a leading-edge law that safeguards the environment, builds public trust, advances reconciliation and ensure the right projects get built. This can be achieved by:
We need parliament to amend CEPA with the recommended updates made in the final report of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development—which include recommendations on environmental rights, toxics regulations and protections for vulnerable populations — without delay in order to improve public health, better protect the environment and recognize Canadians’ environmental rights.
We need parliament to establish a legal and policy framework to protect, restore and sustain Canada’s fisheries and the rivers, lakes and oceans that support them — for generations to come by:
Parliament must restore trust in federal institutions and establish an unbiased, forward-looking and evidence-based energy regulatory landscape by:
We need government to keep its promise to restore lost protections and incorporate modern safeguards in order to ensure all of Canada’s waterways are protected by:
While we’re cautiously optimistic that our efforts have tipped the scale in favour of modernizing our laws so they are stronger, more enforceable and fair, the ball is now in the government’s court: it says that it will introduce reform bills early in the New Year.
Ecojustice will continue to put pressure on elected officials to live up to the opportunity it has before it. The time to enact next-generation environmental laws is here. Let’s get it right!