Today’s events in the House of Commons will allow the speedier advancement of measures to protect the environment. Conversely, an election could have created uncertainty with the risk of losing significant funding for important environmental goals.
Funding to support green initiatives including combating climate change, improving public transit, and reducing pollution may not have resurfaced with an entirely new government mandate. Specifically, the budget creates a federal agency to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and a climate change fund to finance environmentally friendly technologies. It also puts more money from gas tax revenues into public transit for cities, as well as increased funds for fighting pollution.
“Although it’s not perfect, it’s certainly a step in the right direction,” said Sierra Legal Defence Fund lawyer Margot Venton from Ottawa, “Now we have to move forward to make further improvements and protect Canadians’ right to a clean environment.”
The budget addresses some of Canada’s Kyoto commitments. “If there was a different outcome on the budget vote, we likely would have seen even more stalls on our obligations to Kyoto,” said Sierra legal lawyer Tim Howard from Vancouver. “Another government could have abandoned those responsibilities altogether and we could have seen more damage to our environment. We still have a long way to go on environmental improvements and we don’t need to start from scratch,” added Howard.
Right before the budget vote came down, Bill C-15 – aimed at ships dumping oil in the sea and protecting sea life – passed. Sierra Legal Defence Fund had briefed the Senate on the urgent needs for the amendments to both the Migratory Birds Convention and Canadian Environmental Protection Acts. “Overall it’s been a good day for the environment in Canada,” said Margot Venton.