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Federal budget implementation bill deeply worrying: CPAWS

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) is gravely concerned that yesterday’s Budget Implementation bill introduced by the federal government in the House of Commons is set to seriously weaken Canada’s environmental laws in order to fast track industrial development.

Strong environmental laws are essential to protect Canada’s communities, ecosystems, health, and economy.

“As Canada’s voice for wilderness, we are deeply concerned that the government has used a budget implementation bill to shelter a huge number of legislative changes, including many that will dilute our environmental laws,” says CPAWS National Executive Director Eric Hebert-Daly.

“These fundamental changes to environmental laws warrant proper public debate and review, not to be buried in the budget bill which should be focused on Canada’s fiscal priorities,” adds Hebert-Daly.

The legislative changes buried within the Budget Bill will alter nine federal environmental laws, including the Fisheries Act, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the Species at Risk Act, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, the Parks Canada Agency Act and will repeal the Kyoto Accord Implementation Act. Ecojustice estimates that one-third of the bill contains provisions to alter environmental laws and statutes.

Some of CPAWS’s major concerns upon first reading of the 431 page Bill are:

•         Fish habitat protection requirements appear to be severely compromised by the proposed changes to the Fisheries Act.

• The scope of environmental reviews has been drastically narrowed, leaving many projects not subject to proper environmental assessment.

• Concerned citizens and organizations will no longer be able to participate in many environmental review processes unless they are “directly affected” by the projects under review, and strict time limits will be imposed on reviews, regardless of the time needed to scientifically assess the projects’ potential impacts, and to conduct public and Aboriginal consultations.

•         Cabinet will have more power to approve industrial projects that were once under the decision-making authority of regulatory agencies such as the National Energy Board. This gives elected officials the ability to place politics ahead of environmental science in making major decisions that will affect our country’s ecological health.

•         National park management plans will be reviewed every decade instead of every 5 years. With ecological and social conditions in and around parks changing rapidly, this is too long a time period to address issues such as steep declines in species.

“Strong environmental laws are essential for Canada to ensure that the health of our ecosystems, the air we breathe, the water we drink and the nature we enjoy are protected. And as world markets become increasingly conscious about buying sustainably produced products, these changes in our environmental laws risk heading Canadian the other direction,” says Hebert-Daly.


Contact: Ellen Adelberg,