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UPDATE: Council supports C-469, a Canadian environmental bill of rights

Bill C-469, An Act to establish a Canadian Environmental Bill of Rights, had its second reading and debate in the House of Commons this past May, and the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development began studying the bill last month.

The bill was introduced by NDP Member of Parliament Linda Duncan (Edmonton-Strathcona) in October 2009. Her website highlights:

  • The bill requires the federal government to take action to protect Canadians’ right to a healthy environment.
  • It ensures access to environmental information and the right to participate in decisions related to the environment.
  • It expands the right to request investigations of environmental offences and bring environmental issues to the courts.
  • It provides whistleblower protection for employees.
  • It ensures accountability by giving Canadians the right to bring the federal government to court when it fails to enforce environmental laws.

C-469 is supported by Ecojustice, a leading environmental law organization. Ecojustice lawyer Will Amos has stated, “Environmental health is the civil rights issue of our generation and this bill is a way of securing environmental rights for Canadians.”

As noted on the Ecojustice website, “On a pro bono basis, Ecojustice drafted model legislation for a Canadian Environmental Bill of Rights for the Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth in May of 2008. This model legislation, similar to the proposed bill (now being) considered by Parliament, was created to enshrine in law the right of all Canadians to a healthy environment.”

The bill is under threat though. The CBC’s Kady O’Malley wrote today that, “Over at Environment, Linda Duncan’s proposed Environmental Bill of Rights is still on the agenda, although given the ultimate fate of C-311 — which was the last NDP-sponsored environment bill to make it through the House — it’s not clear whether there’s much point in perusing it in detail, what with the Conservative seemingly eager to flex its new Senate majority by kiboshing legislation passed by the Commons without government support.”

An environmental bill of rights is too important to give up on that easily. To collect signatures in support of C-469, please download the petition at http://www.lindaduncan.ndp.ca/sites/default/files/Single%20Page%20Petition%20-Enviro%20Bill%20of%20Rights.pdf.

To read the bill, please go to http://www2.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?Docid=4330148&file=4. You may also remember that we flagged C-469 in our list of legislation we were watching this session, that’s at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=4625.

CUPE has also pledged their support for C-469. Their release on this today can be found at http://cupe.ca/environment/urges-commons-committee-support-bill-c.