Ottawa – Today, on the eve of international Human Rights Day, Linda Duncan, Member of Parliament for Edmonton-Strathcona, tabled Bill C-202. The private member’s bill could lead to Canada’s first federal Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR).

“Living in a healthy environment is a basic human right that should be enshrined in law” says Ecojustice’s Manager of Legislative Affairs, Pierre Sadik. “Around the globe, the right to a healthy environment has gained legal recognition faster than any other human right during the last 50 years and it’s time for Canada to catch up.”

Several provinces and territories have environmental rights legislation.  Now, Ecojustice and the David Suzuki Foundation are hopeful that federal politicians are ready to come together across party lines to support the right to clean air, safe drinking water and a stable climate.

“At the municipal level, the City of Toronto is poised to become the 100
th Canadian municipality to pass a declaration supporting its residents’ right to a healthy environment later this week,” says Alaya Boisvert, Manager of Blue Dot Government and Partner Relations at the David Suzuki Foundation. “That should send a strong message to Ottawa that environmental rights is an idea that’s time has come.”

A federal EBR would go a long way toward strengthening Canada’s legal framework for protecting the environment. It would establish that the federal government recognizes that Canadians do have a right to a healthy environment.

The proposed EBR would ensure that Canadians have access to the information they need in order to be fully informed about environmental actions and decisions government makes, it would allow Canadians to participate in the process of developing, implementing and evaluating environmental law and policy, and it would provide Canadians with access to the courts, as a last resort, where there is an irreconcilable conflict over environmental decision-making.