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Canada Parliament - sight of the Speech from the Throne

Canada Parliament Building by Prayitno via Flickr Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

press release

Statement: Ecojustice reacts to Speech from the Throne

September 23, 2020

Feds must deliver on commitments to enviro legislation as soon as possible

For immediate release: September 23, 2020

Ottawa, Ont. – Ecojustice executive director Devon Page issued the following statement in response to today’s Speech from the Throne outlining the federal government’s legislative priorities for this term:

“Today’s throne speech indicates that while leading Canada through the COVID-19 pandemic is priority number one, the federal government recognizes that now is not the time to scale back the ambition of its efforts to address two other urgent public health threats: climate change and toxic pollution.

“Ecojustice welcomes the Liberals’ promise to modernize the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). We urge the federal government to table legislation to do so before the end of this year. This law, one of Canada’s most important environmental laws, hasn’t been updated in more than 20 years and is no longer up to the task of protecting Canadians, especially those in vulnerable situations, from toxic substances and pollution.

“We also welcome the federal government’s recommitment to ban harmful single-use plastics next year and ensure more plastic is recycled.

“Crucially, a modernized CEPA must include the right to a healthy environment. Just last week, the UN Special Rapporteur on hazardous substances and wastes published a report that highlights Canada’s ongoing failure to protect Indigenous and racialized communities — the same communities that have been most impacted by COVID-19 — from the worst effects of pollution. The report explicitly calls for Canada to legislate the right to a healthy environment. 

“The commitment by the federal government in today’s speech to immediately bring forward a plan to exceed Canada’s 2030 greenhouse gas emissions goal and legislate a new net-zero by 2050 target is promising. 

“However, Canada has missed every emissions target it has ever set. That is why this new climate law must also include mechanisms that will hold this, and future federal governments, to account for its commitments to reduce Canada’s emissions and achieve our climate targets. These accountability mechanisms are critical to driving the climate action that global consumers and investors are demanding and that the Liberals have made a cornerstone of job creation.

“The climate emergency fuels threats to human health and compounds the inequalities brought to the fore by the COVID-19 pandemic. To keep future generations of Canadians safe and deliver the bold action it has promised, the federal government must table an ambitious climate accountability law by the end of 2020. 

“Ecojustice invites the federal government to look to the climate accountability framework we produced with our partners. This framework draws from the experiences of other countries that rely on climate accountability legislation to effectively reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. 

“Canadians are depending on this federal government to deliver urgent, bold action to safeguard our future. Therefore, as this federal government guides Canada through the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative that it does not lose momentum toward delivering legislation that will  drive climate action and protect a healthy environment for all Canadians.”

Ecojustice goes to court and uses the power of the law to defend nature, combat climate change, and fight for a healthy environment. Its strategic, innovative public interest lawsuits lead to legal precedents that deliver lasting solutions to Canada’s most urgent environmental problems. As Canada’s largest environmental law charity, Ecojustice operates offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, and Halifax.