Sierra Club #BlackOutSpeakOut
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Canadian environmental protection laws are in grave danger. Bill C-38, introduced to Parliament last week, is described as “an Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and other measures." These "other measures" extend far beyond a budget bill and include sweeping changes to Acts of Parliament. These are summarized succinctly by Andrew Coyne in his article in the National Post on April 30th.
"The bill runs to more than 420 pages. It amends some 60 different acts, repeals half a dozen, and adds three more, including a completely rewritten Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. It ranges far beyond the traditional budget concerns of taxing and spending, making changes in policy across a number of fields from immigration (among other changes, it erases at a stroke the entire backlog of applications under the skilled worker program), to telecommunications (opening the door, slightly, to foreign ownership), to land codes on native reservations, repeals the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, replacing it with a completely new version of environmental assessment, while undermining the Fisheries Act, the Navigable Waters Protection Act and the Species At Risk Act."
Is this legal? Yes but as Coyne says, "What is lawful may nevertheless be illegitimate, especially where fundamental issues of parliamentary government are in play." Sierra Club summarizes their five reasons to speak out below.
Right now, Parliament is pushing through a bill to weaken many of the country's most important environmental protection measures and silence Canadians who want to defend them. Instead of using the usual process for sweeping changes, which allows for thorough debate, these changes are being shoehorned into a massive budget law.
Here are the top five reasons to Speak Out:
- The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act is being replaced with a totally new law. Under it, Ottawa will play a much smaller role in protecting people from harmful projects, while retaining the right to basically rubber-stamp big projects that powerful oil interests want. And the new weaker rules are being applied to review processes that are already underway–so projects like the Enbridge Northern Gateway tankers and pipeline project could get an easier ride.
- The government is adding $8 million in new funding for the Canada Revenue Agency to audit charities – including environmental groups – because they use their legal right to advocate for things like laws to fight global warming. This will have a chilling effect on democratic debate, with the big winner being powerful oil interests. Under the new laws, citizen groups will likely be shut out of environmental reviews of big projects like oil pipelines. Key government agencies with expertise will also have less input. Well funded backroom lobbyists and political operatives will have greater influence.
- The National Energy Board will no longer be able to say “no” to oil pipeline projects that are not in the public interest. Politicians in Cabinet will be able to overrule the expert energy regulator if powerful oil interests don’t like its decision. Permits that allow the destruction of habitat for fish and threatened or endangered species will now be issued behind closed doors without public scrutiny, if they are required at all.
- Many lakes, rivers and streams that provide habitat to fish will be at greater risk of destruction because of changes to the Fisheries Act contained within the budget implementation bill. Healthy fish habitat is important for fish and for the people and businesses that depend on them.
- The 2012 budget eliminates the funding for the last remaining government advisory body – the National Roundtable on the Environment and Economy (NRTEE)- focused on providing analysis and advice on how to meet our international commitments to reducing greenhouse gas pollution
Sign up at the BlackOutSpeakOut campaign page to receive action updates. Act now to help protect Canada's valued parliamentary process and the environment.