Skip to content

NEWS: More than 40 groups call for stronger environmental assessment laws

Rachel Forbes, West Coast Environmental Law

Rachel Forbes, West Coast Environmental Law

A media release issued on February 29 states, “Today over 40 groups, from internationally-known organizations like Council of Canadians and Greenpeace, to local citizens’ groups like Grand Riverkeeper Labrador, have endorsed a statement confirming their support for strong federal environmental laws that protect our national values.”

The Canadian Press has reported, “Ottawa is soon expected to announce changes for environmental reviews to speed up the system… A group of environmental lawyers, doctors and academics says…Ottawa needs to strengthen public participation in environmental reviews, since local people know their environment best. …’We know that some of the reforms they are planning are going to drastically limit public participation and probably be at the expense of the environmental protection,’ said lawyer Rachel Forbes of West Coast Environmental Law.”

“They have produced a list of 10 principles that should be the basis for environmental assessment laws. Sustainability should be the core objective, they say — not economic development. Avenues for public participation should be strengthened and funded. And aboriginal governments would be fully involved in making decisions, rather than just cursorily consulted.”

“The government (has already) cut short a parliamentary committee’s hearings into reform of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency. …(The government also) says Canada is scaring away investors with convoluted and arcane procedures. …(And it has) complained about the long list of intervenors at hearings into the Northern Gateway pipeline to the West Coast, branding them as ‘radicals’ backed by foreign money who are needlessly delaying things. …Those moves suggest Ottawa would rather usher projects through without hearing much from anyone, the critics say.”

Earlier this week, the Harper government released spending estimates for the upcoming 2012-13 budget year that already includes major spending cuts. The estimates reveal that the Harper government is cutting funding to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency by 43 per cent, down to about $17 million from $30 million.

The media release on the MiningWatch Canada website can be read at http://www.miningwatch.ca/news/coast-coast-canadian-groups-say-strong-inclusive-federal-environmental-laws-are-needed.