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June 2012

Six Questions for your MP about Bill C-38

27 June, 2012

With Bill C-38 before the Senate, Members of Parliament (MPs) have gone home from Ottawa.  There they will doubtless receive a warm welcome from their constituents, as well as questions about the Budget and why attacks to Canada's environment and the laws that support it were buried in the Bill.  We've compiled our top 6 questions that we’d like to suggest you ask your MP on their return home.  

West Coast Environmental Law Association, along with a great many other Canadians, is disappointed that Bill C-38, the Budget Implementation Act, with its various attacks on Canada’s environment and the laws that protect it, has passed the House of Commons.

Canada's Fisheries Act after Bill C-38

27 June, 2012

Postmedia reporter, Mike DeSouza, has recently released several slides from Fisheries and Oceans Canada staff explaining how the current Canadian Fisheries Act is intended to protect fish habitat, including a slide clearly setting out the current legal protection for fish habit.  Bill C-38, if fully implemented, would remove this legal protection for fish habitat, so we’ve updated the Fisheries and Oceans slide to show what the new Fisheries Act rules would mean for fish and fish habitat.

Postmedia reporter, Mike DeSouza, has recently released several slides from Fisheries and Oceans Canada staff explaining how the current Canadian Fisheries Act is intended to protect fish habitat, including a slide clearly setting out the current legal protection for fish habit.  Readers of our Environmental Law Alert will know that Bill C-38, which was passed by the House of Commons on June 18th and is currently before the S

Time to turn our transportation pyramid right-side up

20 June, 2012

Copenhagen is the world’s poster-child for bicycle-friendly transportation.   But that’s partly because they have aggressive goals for what transportation should look like.  Check out Copenhagen’s Transportation Pyramid, which prioritizes biking and walking over all other modes of transportation.  In essence the Copenhagen Transportation Pyramid turns North American upside-down transportation planning right-side up, and it’s worth imagining what we would need to do if we adopted similar goals. 

Denmark, and in particular Copenhagen, is the world’s poster-child for bicycle-friendly transportation.   But that’s partly because they have aggressive goals for what transportation should look like.  Have a look at Copenhagen’s Transportation Pyramid, which prioritizes biking and walking over all other modes of transportation.  My parents took this photo of a Copenhagen city sign on a recent trip, and I had not previously seen anything that summarized Copenhagen’s approach to transportation planning so well in a single graphic.  In essence

Will Bill C-38 offload fisheries to the provinces?

15 June, 2012

Bill C-38, the Budget Implementation Bill, with its various amendments to Canada’s environmental laws, is a complicated statute, with many long-term implications that have not been fully explored.  One of the most significant, however, has to be the possibility that the Bill may have the effect of offloading responsibility for the protection of fish habitat to some or all of the provinces. The amendments create both:

  • a legal mechanism for the offloading of responsibility for fish habitat, and
  • a weakening of fish habitat protection provisions that will leave gaps that put pressure on provinces who wish to see responsible stewardship of fish and fish habitat to assume such responsibility. 

If this offloading occurs, it is likely to result in a significant additional burden on cash-strapped provinces, and, as a result, less effective protection of fish and fish habitat, and inconsistent protection between jurisdictions.  This would mean a less efficient, and less effective, Fisheries Act for all of Canada.

Bill C-38, the Budget Implementation Bill, with its various amendments to Canada’s environmental laws, is a complicated statute, with many long-term implications that have not been fully explored.  One of the most significant, however, has to be the possibility that the Bill may have the effect of offloading responsibility for the protection of fish habitat to some or all of the provinces. 

West Coast goes to Ottawa to talk about how the Omnibus Bill will harm Canada

14 June, 2012

On May 31, 2012, I travelled to Ottawa, on behalf of West Coast Environmental Law Association, to speak in person about the budget bill’s attack on nature and democracy to the House of Commons Finance Subcommittee on Part 3 of Budget Bill C-38. What is Part 3 of Bill C-38, you may ask?  Part 3 of the 452 page budget bill, a full one third (153 pages) of the bill, is titled “Responsible Resource Development.” This Part is where the proposed cuts and rollbacks to the Fisheries Act, Species at Risk Act, National Energy Board Act, Canadian Environmental Protection Act we have been telling you about and advocating against are. It also entirely replaces the existing environmental assessment law with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act 2012, an emaciated and entirely new approach to environmental assessment in Canada.

On May 31, 2012, I travelled to Ottawa, on behalf of West Coast Environmental Law Association, to speak in person about the budget bill’s attack on nature and democracy to the House of Commons Finance Subcommittee on Part 3 of Budget Bill C-38.

Groundswell of Citizen Action for Nature and Democracy

13 June, 2012

On June 4th, the Black Out Speak Out day of action, over 550 organisations, representing millions of citizens, darkened our websites in a symbolic show of support for nature and democracy, while tens of thousands of Canadians tweeted, blogged, signed petitions and wrote their decision-makers. Media events were held coast to coast, including a Vancouver event emceed by myself on behalf of West Coast Environmental Law.

If you tried to access our website on June 4th you would have found a dark site, with an invitation to join us and over 500 organisations from across Canada in the Black Out Speak Out/Silence, On Parle campaign.

The rise and fall of the Animal Health Act

5 June, 2012

Campaigns to ensure that BC’s environmental laws protect the environment and allow democratic voices to be heard can take years.  Or, as we saw last week, they can result in a win for the environment in a matter of weeks.  The government has dropped its Bill 37, the Animal Health Act, just days after West Coast Environmental Law wrote to the Minister of Agriculture to express concern that the Bill, as drafted, would silence scientists, journalists and citizens concerned about farm diseases.  While we were only one of many voices expressing concern about the proposed Act, we are proud to have provided a bit of legal credibility that its many critics could leverage. 

Campaigns to ensure that BC’s environmental laws protect the environment and allow democratic voices to be heard can take years.  Or, as we saw last week, they can result in a win for the environment in a matter of weeks.