VANCOUVER — A second omnibus bill, C-45, tabled today by the federal government picks up where last spring’s budget bill left off, and further eliminates environmental hurdles for projects like Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline.
Buried in the 457-page bill are changes to the laws that once protected Canada’s waterways, including the Navigable Waters Protection Act. As a result, of the approximately 32,000 major lakes in Canada, only 97 are still protected by this law.
Pipelines however, are also directly exempted from this law. Under the Act, pipeline impacts on Canada’s waterways will no longer be considered in environmental assessments.
“Simply put, lakes, rivers and streams often stand in the path of large industrial development, particularly pipelines. This bill, combined with last spring’s changes, hands oil, gas and other natural resource extraction industries a free pass to degrade Canada’s rich natural legacy,” said Devon Page, executive director of Ecojustice.
“With this bill, the federal government’s position is very clear: building pipeline projects like Northern Gateway and making way for increased tanker traffic is more important than safeguarding Canada’s rivers, lakes, streams and oceans. If you fish or play in our waters, or care what goes in your water glass, you should be alarmed.”
The bill also contains changes to Canada Shipping Act, Hazardous Materials Information Review Act, and further changes to the Fisheries Act.
Bill C-45 follows in the wake of Bill C-38, the highly controversial omnibus budget bill unveiled by the federal government last spring. The bill, which pushed through sweeping changes to landmark
environmental laws like the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and Fisheries Act, become a flashpoint for nation-wide protests and a target of international criticism.
“The federal government is giving these industries more than they have ever asked for, all at the expense of average Canadians who want to ensure that we protect our natural legacy for our kids,” Page said.