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Kent County chapter presents to Canadian Environmental Assessment Act review panel

Kent County chapter activists Denise Melanson (left) and Debbie Hopper (right) at a screening of ‘This Changes Everything’, alongside Serena Francis.

The Council of Canadians Kent County chapter presented to a federal expert panel on environmental assessments at their hearing in Fredericton on October 11. Chapter activist Denise Melanson highlighted the need for stricter processes within all environmental impact assessments.

Water campaigner Emma Lui and Prairies organizer Diane Connors have written, “The Trudeau government committed to ‘review, modernize, and restore’ environmental and regulatory processes. In June 2016, six federal ministers whose mandates impact the environment announced they would review environmental legislation gutted by the former Harper government. The reviews are to include consultations through the fall in four areas: 1) the National Energy Board, 2) the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 3) the Fisheries Act, and 4) the Navigation Protection Act.”

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act is being reviewed through a public consultation process with an expert review panel.

The Financial Post has reported, “Montreal-based strategist and consultant Johanne Gélinas with Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton will chair the panel, which will also include former [mining giant] Teck Resources executive Doug Horswill, aboriginal lawyer Renée Pelletier and Toronto-based environmental lawyer Rod Northey.”

We are asking the panel to recommend reinstating the water protections that were stripped from legislation by the Harper government as well as to significantly improve protections for water.

In 2012, the Harper government gutted the former Navigable Waters Protection Act in omnibus bills C-38 and C-45. C-38 removed pipelines and power lines from provisions of the Navigable Waters Protect Act while C-45 significantly reduced the Act’s scope over Canada’s waters. The word “water” was even removed from the Act when it became the Navigation Protection Act. Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow has commented, “The Harper government killed the Navigable Waters Protection Act, stripping protections from 99 per cent of lakes and rivers in Canada. Major pipelines and inter-provincial power lines now have the green light to cross over and under more than 31,000 lakes and 2.25 million rivers without federal scrutiny.”

Transport minister Marc Garneau has stated, “The Act itself is one of the oldest acts in the country and, in fact, as many people like to say, it initially addressed any water body that could hold a canoe. And so this is a law that was changed in 2012 by the previous government. Some of the changes that were made we may end up saying they’re reasonable, but some of them we definitely will change.”

The review panel will report by January 31, 2017.

To read the 4-part blog series “How to protect water through the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act” by Lui and Connors, please click here.

To watch our new “Every Lake, Every River” video, click here.