Hazell: Testimony at the House of Commons for Bill C-69
On Thursday, April 18th, Stephen Hazell, the Director of Conservation and General Counsel at Nature Canada testified before the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. The Committee is considering Bill C-69, an omnibus bill to reform laws governing environmental assessment, the National Energy Board, and navigable waters.
Read the following brief for an update on Nature Canada’s position of Bill C-69.
Stephen remarked that the proposed Impact Assessment Act includes important reforms such as establishing a strong Impact Assessment Agency; requiring assessments to consider a project’s contribution to sustainability, Indigenous knowledge and Canada’s climate commitments; and increasing transparency in decisions by requiring the Minister and Cabinet to provide reasons for approvals.
Nature Canada argued in it’s brief and in Stephen’s testimony that the Impact Assessment Act needed amendments to achieve the following:
- Restore legal requirements and reduce Ministerial discretion to reduce process uncertainty and potential political interference
- Ensure assessments of projects likely to have adverse environmental effects that are subject to a federal decision
- Ensure meaningful public participation in impact assessments
- Put the federal house in order by strengthening impact assessments of projects on federal lands or that are federally financed
- Restrict the role of energy regulators in the review panel process
- Establish a legislative framework that ensures that regional assessment and strategic assessment tools are workable.
If you want to protect nature in Canada, take this opportunity to restore and strengthen legal protections by signing our petition!
After the committee hearing, Stephen touched upon other facets of Bill C-69 and the Impact Assessment Act that would effect nature in Canada, such as the proposed hosting of the 2026 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary, Alberta.
Maura Forrest at National Post quoted Stephen, highlighting that “Environmental groups point out that the government has yet to publish its project list, meaning it’s still unclear which activities will be subject to assessment. Even those projects on the list won’t necessarily be assessed, because the government can decide they don’t require review after a new early planning phase the Liberals have introduced.”