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London chapter backs Bill C-355 to have Thames River listed in the Navigation Protection Act

The London chapter calling for protections for the Thames River to be reinstated even prior to the last federal election, March 2015.

The Council of Canadians London chapter is supporting MP Irene Mathyssen’s private members Bill C-355 that seeks to restore the Thames River to the list of rivers protected under the Navigation Protection Act.

The chapter has posted on Facebook, “The Council of Canadians wants protection for the Thames River; the Liberal Trudeau government has failed to keep their promise to reinstate protection.”

The chapter also shared a London Free Press article which reports, “The Thames lost some status — and, potentially, environmental protection — in 2012 under the federal Conservative government. Now, a London New Democrat MP is trying to get that protection and status back, and she has initial support from a Liberal colleague. Irene Mathyssen (London-Fanshawe) has introduced a private member’s bill amending the federal Navigation Protection Act to include the Thames waterway.”

The article explains, “In 2012, the Conservative government replaced the Navigable Waters Protection Act with the Navigation Protection Act. In the process, the Thames River and hundreds of other waterways dropped off the list of navigable waters and, critics said, lost environmental protection.”

And it highlights, “The Liberals promised during the 2015 election to return legal protection to the Thames and other rivers, but haven’t done a thing, Mathyssen said Tuesday. …London West Liberal MP Kate Young said Tuesday she supports the bill in principle, but wants to see what a committee study of the issue, underway for some time, recommends to the minister of transport before offering 100 per cent support.”

And yet on March 23, the Liberal-dominated Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities made their recommendations on the Act – which clearly fail to restore lost protections or incorporate more modern safeguards (as the Liberals promised during the last election).

Rather than extending protections to all lakes and rivers, it recommends: “That the government maintain the Schedule but rapidly improve the process of adding waterways to the Schedule by making it easily accessible, easy to use and transparent and that a public awareness campaign be put in place to inform stakeholders of the process.” Furthermore, the committee weakly recommends, “That the government require that Transport Canada provide reasons why a waterway is or is not added to the schedule.”

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow comments, “This was an opportunity for the committee and the Trudeau government to show leadership on water protection, and it is deeply disappointing that they have failed to do so. Freshwater protections are crucial to upholding the human right to water. Without protections for all lakes and rivers, Trudeau’s election promises ring hollow.”

Trudeau has until July 21 to respond to the committee’s recommendations.

Liberal MP Kate Young should publicly state before then that she thinks the river should be listed under the Act – or make her argument as to why it should not be.

To call on the Trudeau government to keep its election campaign promise and immediately restore protections to all lakes and rivers in Canada, please see our action alert here.