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NEWS: Navigation Protection Act has last hearing today

CBC reports, “Two hours of Transport Committee hearings today will be the last word the House of Commons hears on the 130-year-old Navigable Waters Protection Act. The Act is to be replaced by the Navigation Protection Act, a piece of legislation included in bill C-45, the government’s second omnibus Budget Implementation Act.”

Council of Canadians water campaigner Emma Lui has pointed out that there are at least 31,752 lakes in Canada, but that the Navigation Protection Act ‘protects’ just 97 lakes, 62 rivers and 3 oceans. Projects proposed for the waterways listed will require ministerial approval, while projects can proceed without limitation on non-listed waterways (though companies can opt-in for an approval process). These changes will make it easier for companies to proceed with projects that would harm waterways such as the tar sands, mines, dams, pipelines, logging, and interprovincial power lines.

The Ottawa Citizen has reported, “90 per cent of all the lakes that are earmarked for continuing federal waterways protection have shoreline in Conservative ridings. Just 27 per cent of the lakes are contiguous with NDP or Liberal ridings. …While the ocean and river shorelines are adjacent to many ridings and provinces across the country, the protected lakes are unevenly distributed, with most falling in Ontario cottage country and the B.C interior — areas of mostly Conservative representation. The budget bill names 68 protected lakes in Ontario but only four in Quebec.” The Winnipeg Free Press frames this as, “Analysis found almost nine in 10 of the waterways that remain protected are in Conservative ridings.”

To read Emma’s blog, which highlights an Ecojustice report on this issue, please go to http://canadians.org/blog/?p=17634. An earlier blog can be read at http://canadians.org/blog/?p=17379, while a blog on C-45 can be found at http://canadians.org/blog/?p=17377.