Before being elected, the Trudeau government promised to reinstate federal protections for lakes and rivers in Canada after they were gutted by the previous Harper government. The Harper government’s harmful legacy on water has left 99% of lakes and rivers unprotected in Canada.
In March 2017, the federal Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities released a report recommending the government leave the 99% of lakes and rivers unprotected under the Navigation Protection Act (NPA), formerly the Navigable Waters Protection Act (NWPA). In July 2017, the Trudeau government agreed with the committee’s recommendation. Transport Canada says it will provide a process to add navigable waters to the schedule of lakes and rivers. However, there is concern the process could be so laborious and restrictive that it could effectively exclude certain lakes and rivers from the act for good. It also puts the onus on communities to make the case to put protections back on waterways when it is the federal government’s responsibility to protect them.
It is up to all of us to send a strong message to Members of Parliament that all lakes and rivers must be protected. Email, call or set up a meeting with your Member of Parliament and urge them to protect vulnerable waterways.