Early February, the Liberal government introduced Bill C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, which in its current form would make sweeping changes to Canada’s water, environmental and energy legislation. Buried in the lengthy 412-page bill are changes to the Navigation Protection Act, now named the Canadian Navigable Waters Act. Despite Justin Trudeau’s commitment to restore protections and implement modern safeguards the bill does neither.
Pipelines and powerlines are still exempted under the CNWA. Pipelines like Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline, which crosses more than 1300 waterways, would still not be regulated under this proposed act.
Yet the bill is moving quickly through the different readings and stages. The Trudeau government introduced a Time Allocation motion at the end of February that shut down debate on the bill after just two days of debate.
On March 19, Members of Parliament voted to send the bill to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development.
The Standing Committee started hearings last week on World Water Day on March 22. Ministers and staff for the departments of Environment and Climate Change and Natural Resources as well as the president of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency presented that day.
There are hearings today and tomorrow with a whole slew of industry associations like the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, the Canadian Hydropower Associate, the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada, the Canadian Electricity Association, the Canadian Nuclear Association and the Mining Association of Canada. Learn more about the hearings here.
After tomorrow, the hearings are expected to tentatively start again April 17-19 and then again April 24-26.
Indigenous nations, residents, experts or groups can email email@example.com to request to speak by Friday, March 30. But notice of this deadline to request to speak is not easily found on the Standing Committee’s webpage and it’s unclear how many Indigenous nations, community and water groups and impacted residents are aware of this tight timeline.
On March 9, the Standing Committee began encouraging the public to make written submissions “as soon as possible.” No deadline was given. This past Monday, the Standing Committee issued this press release giving the deadline of Friday, April 6 for written submissions.
If the Standing Committee on the Environment and the Trudeau government truly want to hear from Indigenous nations, local residents, community or water groups, they must extend the deadline and give people proper notice to engage in this process.
Despite the short timelines given to the public, the Standing Committee was able to line up numerous industry associations on what it says was “short notice.”
The Council of Canadians is calling for the CNWA to be scrapped and that much stronger water protection legislation be tabled that protects all lakes, rivers and drinking water sources and respects that free, prior and informed consent be obtained, as required by the UN Declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Council is calling for the appointment of a federal water minister position to advocate for the protection of water. See our other demands and sign our petition here.
Take action for water by:
Writing the committee members to call for an extension to the tight deadlines.
Writing the committee to request to speak by end of day Friday, March 30.
Making a written submission by Friday, April 6. See the Council of Canadians’ submission focused on the Canadian Navigable Waters Act here. Please feel free to use the points in it for your submission as well as the information below.
For background and information:
West Coast Environmental Law: The problems with the new Canadian Navigable Waters Act