Friday, September 24, 2010

Fall Preview: What Should Parliament Be Doing for the Environment?

Parliament resumed this week, and there are several environmental policies or legislations that need action now. Nature Canada will be asking our elected representatives to:

  • Complete the mandatory Species at Risk Act 5-year review.
The long-awaited 5-year review of Canada's Species at Risk Act (SARA) began in 2009. The House of Commons Environment Committee has heard testimony from many witnesses and received numerous submissions, including from Nature Canada, and now needs to complete its report. As we wait for recommendations to make this crucial environmental legislation stronger, the list of at-risk species in Canada has reached 602.

Parliament must act now to strengthen SARA and make the law work to protect our endangered species.
  • Begin a comprehensive review of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and reinstate crucial measures that were cut this spring in Bill C-9, the Budget Implementation Act.
The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) establishes the national environmental assessment process used to evaluate the negative environmental impacts of new projects like mines, pipelines and tar sands projects and seeks out ways to reduce or eliminate those negative impacts.

During the budget process this spring, changes were made to CEAA that weaken the Act, side-stepping a mandatory review process that was due to start in June.

There should be a full consultation and discussion on CEAA, allowing for open and transparent debate of any further amendments. We are calling on all MPs to work to reinstate the legislation that was removed from the Act and strengthen it to ensure that our environment is protected.
  • Begin a comprehensive review of regulation of unconventional oil and gas production promised in the spring.
In the wake of the Gulf oil spill, the federal government voted on June 2 to immediately conduct an open public review of relevant federal laws, regulations and policies regarding the development of all unconventional sources of oil and gas. Since this decision, little action has been taken, leaving Canada's wildlife and habitats in danger from oil and gas development.

The federal government must immediately undertake this comprehensive review to assure Canadians that our oil and gas development regulations meet the highest standards.
Additionally, Bill C-311 - the only piece of climate change legislation currently under consideration in Canada - is stalled in the Senate. The Bill has been adjourned in the name of Conservative Senator Richard Neufeld and cannot move forward until he speaks to it.

This Bill has been passed in the House of Commons not once, but twice. It was originally introduced as Bill C-377 by the NDP in 2008; the Bill died when an election was called in the Fall of 2008. In its most recent form, Bill C-311 passed third reading in the House by a majority of MPs representing almost 2/3 of the Canadian population.

Concerned Canadians have constantly raised their voices demanding strong action from our government on climate change, and we hope to see this Bill move forward this fall.

If you agree that these issues are important and the federal government needs to act on them this fall, contact your MP today and tell them to take action for Canada's environment.