Five Reasons to Speak Out on Dismantling of Canada’s Environmental Laws

Right now, Parliament is pushing through a bill to weaken most of the country’s most important environmental protection measures and silence Canadians who want to defend them. Far from a traditional budget bill, this “statutory juggernaut”, amends, or repeals nearly 70 federal laws — and instead of using the usual process for sweeping changes, which allows for thorough debate, these changes are being shoehorned into law in a way that could be without precedent.

It’s time to speak out. Many groups and charitable organizations who are devoted to the cause of nature conservation have launched Black Out Speak Out — and we hope many more individuals and organizations who cherish both nature and democracy will join us.

Here are the top five reasons to Speak Out:
  1. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act is being replaced with a totally new law, which is weaker. It’s also being done retroactively—so projects in the works, like the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, could get an easier ride.  Under it, Ottawa will play a much smaller role in protecting people from many harmful projects.  But it retains the right to basically rubber-stamp big projects that powerful oil interests want.
  2. Citizen groups could well be shut out of environmental reviews of big projects like oil pipelines. Key government agencies with expertise will also have less input. Backroom and political operatives will have more.
  3. The government is adding $8 million in new funding for the Canada Revenue Agency to audit charities – including environmental groups – because they use their legal right to advocate for things like fighting global warming. This will have a chill effect on democratic debate.
  4. Right now, the National Energy Board decides whether major energy projects should go ahead, especially big ones involving oil.  The government is taking away that authority and giving it to Cabinet instead – so politicians can overrule the expert energy regulator if they don’t like their decision.  Permits that allow the destruction of habitat for fish and threatened or endangered species will now be issued behind closed doors without public scrutiny.
  5. Many lakes, rivers and streams that provide habitat to fish will be at greater risk of destruction. Healthy fish habitat is important for fish and for the people and businesses that depend on them.