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West Coast reacts to 2021 Federal Speech from the Throne

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) & səl̓ilwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Territories/VANCOUVER

Lawyers at West Coast Environmental Law Association welcome commitments for environmental and climate action in today’s federal Speech from the Throne, and say Canadians will be looking to the federal government for tangible steps to deliver on these and other key promises in the coming months.

The Throne Speech – delivered by Canada’s first Inuit Governor General Mary Simon – acknowledged the harm caused to Indigenous peoples by generations of colonial violence and committed to “turn the guilt we carry into action,” emphasizing commitments to act on issues such as reconciliation, climate change and public health.

“As the Governor General stated, now is the time to move talk into action – from making real progress on reconciliation, to meeting Canada’s climate targets,” said Jessica Clogg, Executive Director & Senior Counsel. “We have seen many commitments from the government on these issues in the past, and now we need elected leaders to make the bold moves required to put Canada on the path to a more sustainable, equitable and just future.”

The catastrophic flooding in BC this past week has put a spotlight on the need for urgent action at all levels of government to address the climate crisis and to better prepare communities and infrastructure in the face of worsening climate impacts. West Coast was heartened to see this priority reflected in the speech, including a newly-promised National Adaptation Strategy that will be vital in protecting communities from the effects of climate change.

“Canada’s Throne Speech puts the fight against climate change front and centre, and recognizes the need to retool our industries for a low carbon future, while protecting Canadians from the impacts of climate change that we are already experiencing. We will be pressing the government to deliver, and go further, to finally start meeting our climate commitments,” said Andrew Gage, Staff Lawyer.

In addition to climate action, the Throne Speech reiterated federal commitments to protect land and oceans to address biodiversity loss, and to “strengthen its partnership with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis, to protect nature and respect their traditional knowledge.”

“The Throne Speech recognized the importance of continuing forward on the federal government’s commitment to protect 30% of the ocean by 2030. We are also heartened to see the government’s commitment to Indigenous-led conservation. Echoing our analysis of the Liberal Party’s pre-election platform, much will be determined in the months to come. We will continue to advocate for the designation of strong, legally-designated marine protected areas that honour Indigenous governance, including the designation of Canada’s first marine protected area network in the Great Bear Sea,” said Stephanie Hewson, Staff Lawyer.

While the sharper focus on climate change is welcome, lawyers note that several key environmental and justice-focused commitments were left out of today’s speech – such as the promised Just Transition Act to help workers in the clean energy transition, as well as a national strategy to address environmental racism.

West Coast will be closely watching for new developments on these issues and more in the coming months.

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For more information, contact:

Alexis Stoymenoff, Director of Communications
astoymenoff@wcel.org, 604-684-7378 ext. 228