It was all hands on deck this week in our nation’s capital. Environmental Defence joined with seven other organizations in an all-out advocacy effort to strengthen Canada’s outdated environmental laws.

Environmental law reform is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make sure the federal government enacts strong laws for healthy communities and a resilient environment.

The government is moving forward with a multi-year process to revamp Canada’s environmental laws after they were gutted by the previous government. After over a year of public consultations, expert panels and committee studies, the feds are reforming five laws designed to protect our land, air, water, climate and communities from toxic pollution and risky, high-carbon energy and industrial projects. The reforms include:

  1. Overhauling the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act: We need a next-generation environmental assessment law that prioritizes sustainability and ensures that the right energy and industrial projects get built.

 

2. Modernizing the National Energy Board: It’s time to establish an unbiased, forward-looking and evidence-based energy regulator that aligns energy projects with climate science and equips Canada to prosper in a low-carbon world.

 

3. Making significant updates to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act that governs pollution prevention and management of toxic chemicals to improve public health, better protect the environment, and recognize Canadians’ environmental rights.

 

4. Restoring lost protections and incorporating modern safeguards into the Navigable Waters Protection Act to rectify changes that left over 99 per cent of Canada’s lakes, rivers and waterways unprotected by federal law.

 

5. Putting in place a new legal and policy framework to protect, restore and sustain Canada’s fisheries—and the rivers, lakes and oceans that support them—for generations to come.

 

From Tuesday to Thursday, over 20 campaigners, including our Executive Director Tim Gray, Toxics Program Manager Muhannad Malas, and myself, descended on Parliament Hill to push for strong laws that tackle climate change, ensure sustainability, protect our health and the environment from pollution and toxics, regain public trust in environmental decision-making, and fulfill Canada’s commitment to Indigenous reconciliation.

We held nearly 40 meetings with key Ministers, MPs from all parties, and senior government officials. We also hosted a cocktail reception for MPs, allies, and stakeholders.

 

Our efforts in Ottawa are part of the ongoing process to restore and strengthen Canada’s environmental laws. We’re expecting the government to introduce legislation early in 2018, which will lead to a year-long drawn-out battle to make sure the laws are robust, withstand the onslaught of lobbyists from the oil, gas, mining and chemical industries, and that they get passed before the next election.

It won’t be easy, but it’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity that we can’t pass up. And that’s why Canada’s biggest environmental organizations have come together in a united effort to get environmental law reform right.

We don’t have deep pockets and endless resources like the powerful industries we’re up against. Our work wouldn’t be possible without you. Please consider donating so we can keep up our work fighting for strong environmental laws.

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