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Mid Island chapter meets with MP Sheila Malcolmson on the Navigable Waters Protection Act

Chapter activist June Ross, NDP MP Sheila Malcolmson

The Council of Canadians Mid Island chapter met with NDP MP Sheila Malcolmson today to present her with a copy of Maude Barlow’s book Boiling Point: Government Neglect, Corporate Abuse, and Canada’s Water Crisis and to discuss the Navigable Waters Protection Act and environmental protection issues.

In 2012, Stephen Harper’s Conservative government decimated the Navigable Waters Protection Act by removing federal oversight on pipelines and power lines from it and by reducing its scope to just 159 lakes and rivers, leaving more than 31,000 lakes and 2.25 million rivers without federal scrutiny.

In January 2013, CBC reported, “A letter obtained by Greenpeace through access to information laws and passed on to the CBC reveals the oil and gas industry was granted its request that the federal government change a series of environmental laws… The letter [from the Energy Framework Initiative, a group that includes the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association] specifically mentions six laws that relate to the oil and gas industry’s ability to do its work: National Energy Board Act, Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, Fisheries Act, Navigable Waters Protection Act, Species at Risk Act, and Migratory Birds Convention Act.”

Chapter activist June Ross tells us, “I told Sheila that from my perspective it was the oil and gas corporations that were running the show. She indicated that Enbridge has lobbied the government 87 times! I advised Sheila that the Environmental issues were extremely important to most of us on the Coast.”

Malcolmson told Ross that it’s important for chapter activists across the country to lobby backbench Liberal MPs.

During the October 2015 federal election, Justin Trudeau criticized the Harper government’s “elimination of the Navigable Waters Protection Act” and specifically promised to “review these changes, restore lost protections, and incorporate more modern safeguards”.

But now rather than recommending that those lost protections be fully restored, the Liberal-dominated Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities suggests, “That the government maintain the Schedule [of 159 lakes and rivers] 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.”

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

Our view, as argued in Barlow’s book Boiling Point, is that all 31,000 lakes and 2.25 million rivers should be immediately listed and protected under a restored and enhanced Navigable Waters Protection Act.

Twenty-two chapters across the country are meeting with 49 MPs – including backbench Liberal MPs – before that date to build momentum for stronger water protection laws than what the Standing Committee on Transport has recommended.

To assist in this effort, please send Trudeau and Transport Minister Marc Garneau a message via this online action alert Tell Trudeau to keep his water protection promises. Let’s protect every lake and every river!