Blog Entry

Let’s Get It Right: It's Time to Strengthen Canada's Environmental Laws

Jamie Kneen

National Program Co-Lead

Tell the federal government it's time to make environmental laws mean something.

The federal Liberals came to power with a promise to restore and strengthen Canada's environmental laws. In June, 2016, the government began a sweeping review of key environmental laws and asked concerned individuals, communities, and organizations to contribute.

They did – and we did, too. People from across the country, including grass-roots activists, academic experts, Indigenous governments and grassroots people alike – all pitched in. MiningWatch helped organise some of those contributions, and made our own as well. We've been working for years with mining-affected communities and Indigenous peoples to use the law to protect their lands, waters, and livelihoods, whether through the Fisheries Act, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. Even the Navigable Waters Protection Act came into play. We went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada – and won – trying to protect the the integrity of the environmental assessment process. We have a pretty good idea by now of what does and doesn't work, and in whose interests.

Now it's your turn. We need your help to keep the pressure on our elected officials. They've heard what needs to be done, and they've promised to do it, but they are under immense pressure from outside, from industry and vested interests – and from the inside, from captured regulatory agencies and hide-bound bureaucracies. That's why we are asking you to join us in pressing the government to do the right thing – to meaningfully strengthen Canada’s environmental laws. "Business as usual" is no longer an acceptable option.

Members of Parliament also tend to care what voters in their ridings have to say. So we’re asking you to send your MP a personalized e-letter that lets them know that you want them to do their jobs, to strengthen and modernize Canada’s environmental laws. Cabinet ministers need to hear from us loud and clear, too, so the letter will also be copied to the relevant ministers.

Here’s how you can take action:

Tell your MP: I want a next-generation environmental assessment law for Canada

We need stronger, fairer environmental assessment law that respects Indigenous rights and authority, protects nature, and empowers communities. But for this to happen the federal government needs to make some serious changes to the law— like making sustainability the core purpose of assessments, ensuring a meaningful role for the public, and implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples' and the right to Free, Prior, Informed Consent as highlighted by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action.

Urge the federal government not to squander this once-in-a-generation opportunity to fix environmental assessment law and give us the tools we need to face the future. 

Tell your MP: Protect wild fish and their habitats for future generations

Despite being Canada’s oldest piece of environmental legislation, the Fisheries Act, does not do nearly enough to protect oceans, water and fish habitat. And it does not address modern realities like climate change and fish farming.

Now’s your chance to ensure the federal government gets the Fisheries Act right and protects wild fish, their habitats, and the communities that depend on them.

Write your local newspaper: Don’t let 99% of Canada’s waterways go unprotected

Amendments to the Navigable Waters Protection Act, now called the Navigation Protection Act, eliminated oversight and approval requirements for work impacting navigation on more than 99 per cent of Canadian waterways. It also axed the requirement for environmental assessment on the remaining waterways. These protections need to be restored.

You can help get the word out by telling your local newspaper why protecting all navigable waters matters.

Then, share these sites with your networks and encourage your friends and family to take action!

If you like, use these Twitter hashtags to help build momentum: #GetEARight – #GetFisheriesRight – #GetNPARight

Let’s make sure government gets it right.