Skip to content

Thunder Bay chapter comments on Canadian Environmental Assessment Act review

Rod Northey, Renée Pelletier, Johanne Gélinas, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna, Doug Horswill.

The Council of Canadians Thunder Bay chapter has submitted written comments to the federal panel reviewing the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

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.”

Chapter activist Ruth Cook writes, “Social justice and environmental justice go hand-in-hand, and the TBay Council of Canadians believes strongly that these are two ideals worth striving for, and that should be reflected in the Act under discussion. Implicit in this statement is the recognition of our concomitant responsibility to make every effort to ensure that our social, political and legal processes, systems and institutions are directed and operated in such a way as to allow justice to be served. Recent political developments in various countries around the world underscore this as imperative.”

Cook then highlights the chapter’s support for these five actions that have also been endorsed by 1500 scientists:

  • Seek and act on the best available evidence (from all available sources)

  • Make all information from environmental assessments permanently and publicly available

  • Assess cumulative environmental effects from past, present and future projects and activities across multiple scales

  • Work to prevent and eliminate real, apparent, or potential conflicts-of-interest by requiring public disclosure

  • Develop explicit decision-making criteria and provide full, transparent rationale of factors considered

And she highlights, “We recognize that the implications of a number of different Acts comes into play in any discussion about the environment. Many other Acts, regulations, commission and agency mandates and so on will need to be amended, or repealed and replaced so as to avoid confusion, conflict, and loopholes which can arise when government processes are not all on the same page. The Mining Act, the Forestry Act, the former Navigable Waters Act are just a few which will require attention. Neither the public nor the government can act purposefully and efficiently in any processes until the legal framework is consistent, timely, and transparent.”

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.”

The review panel will report by January 31, 2017.