The Council of Canadians is launching its report Every Lake, Every River: Restoring the Navigable Waters Protection Act today. The organization is calling on the Trudeau government to keep its election campaign promise to “restore lost protections” to water by immediately restoring the protections eliminated from the Navigable Waters Protection Act (NWPA). The new report highlights how the current Navigation Protection Act is impacting local economies, Indigenous peoples’ rights and waterways from coast to coast.
“Prime Minister Trudeau needs to keep his promise to restore federal protections for lakes and rivers,” says Emma Lui, water campaigner for the Council of Canadians and author of the report. “The report shows that controversial projects like the Energy East pipeline, the Ajax Mine in B.C., and the Keeyask Dam and Bipole III Transmission Line in Manitoba are moving forward without assessment of how they will impact lakes, rivers and other navigable waters. This is incredibly worrying. Communities rely on healthy navigable waters for transportation, fishing, recreation, local tourism and drinking water.”
The Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities began inviting written comments earlier this month, with a deadline of November 9, 2016 for written submissions. The standing committee and Transport Canada are also holding limited meetings. However, the Council of Canadians is calling on the Trudeau government to hold public consultations and create an independent review panel as it has with the Canadian Environmental Assessment review.
“People are hungry for real change. The Trudeau government giving the green light to the Site C dam, the Pacific Northwest LNG project and the Muskrat Falls dam is a disappointing continuation of Harper’s policies,” says Lui. “There’s no way around it. Every lake and every river must be protected.”
The Council of Canadians is calling on the Trudeau government to restore and enhance the NWPA by:
- Updating the NWPA so that all lakes, rivers and waterways are fully protected.
- Reinstating and strengthening federal scrutiny of large pipelines and power lines under the NWPA and assessment of waterways under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.
- Holding public consultations and independent expert panels and incorporating feedback to strengthen the NWPA.
- Consulting with Indigenous peoples and incorporating the obligation to obtain free, prior and informed consent into the NWPA so that Indigenous treaty and water rights are respected and a nation-to-nation relationship is truly established.
- Implementing strict safeguards for waterways within the framework of the United Nations-recognized human right to water and sanitation.