Nature Canada

Nature Canada Proposals to Strengthen Canada’s Environmental Laws


Image of Stephen Hazell

Stephen Hazell
Director of Conservation
and Legal Counsel

The new Liberal government of Justin Trudeau has promised to review environmental laws that have been weakened in recent years by the previous Conservative government. The Liberal election platform states that important environmental protection provisions removed from the Fisheries Act and Navigable Waters Protection Act will be restored and modern safeguards included. The platform also promises an “immediate public review of Canada’s environmental assessment processes” and to modernize the National Energy Board.

Nature Canada is presenting proposals prepared by legal experts to strengthen these and other federal laws. These environmental laws will be essential to protecting our environment and need to be strengthened in order for things like biodiversity to be conserved. The first that is available is A Quick Start on Federal Environmental Assessment, prepared by Stephen Hazell, Nature Canada’s Director of Conservation and General Counsel. He proposes regulatory and policy changes to quickly improve federal environmental assessments of projects such as the Trans Mountain and Energy East Pipelines without recourse to Parliament for new legislation. Other proposals to strengthen the National Energy Board Act, the Fisheries Act, the Canada Wildlife Act, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012, and the Species at Risk Act are coming soon![/one_half] [one_half_last][box style=”1″]Summary of Key Environmental Law Changes

Since 2011, the federal government has made the following changes:

  • Replaced the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act with the weaker CEAA 2012, which scrapped over 3,000 environmental reviews, limits what gets considered in assessments and restricts the public’s right to participate.
  • Gutted the Fisheries Act by weakening fish habitat protection, removing protection over some fish species and broadening government’s powers to allow harm to fish and fish habitat.
  • Handed environmental oversight of major energy and pipeline projects to the National Energy Board.
  • Amended the Species at Risk Act by removing mandatory time limits on permits allowing impacts to threatened and endangered species.[/box]

Edited from the Canada’s Track Record on Environmental Laws 2011-2015 Document by West Coast Environmental Law and the Quebec Environmental Law Centre. [/one_half_last]


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