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Harpers plan to deregulate the environment



In the next few weeks the conservatives are going to be coming out with new environmental regulatory rules or in reality new deregulatory rules, that should eliminate about 90 per cent of federal environmental assessments.

On Saturday, John Baird our minister of transport, infrastructure and communities, explained that the federal government will begin relying more on provincial assessments for joint projects rather than having both levels of government do the same work and thus bogging down the process.

Only in Harpers Canada would we have the minister of the environment, Jim Prentice in Calgary announcing major energy projects on the same day that the minister for infrastructure is in Toronto making major environmental announcements. Although in a way it does make sense, since Harper and company have never really had their heart in this environmental thing, anyway and what is the worse thing that could happen.

I am sure every province, despite the differences in their approach to protecting the environment will take a national view when assessing the downwind, downstream effects or the protection of Canada’s shared wildlife and habitats, when approving the projects for the industries and corporations that are important to their province. Isn’t that right Mr. Stelmach.

Every recession has its silver lining and now the conservatives can pass all those pesky environmental questions on to the provincial level and Harper can move another step closer to creating the perfect, resource focussed, free enterprise system. One that is free of another federal restriction. The NCC must be so proud.



JAWL

Comments

Beijing York said…
Public participation is a key element in federal legislation governing the environmental impact assessment (EIA) process. The act further identifies the need for local and traditional knowledge to influence the identification of potential impacts in the EIA process.

From the CEAA's web page:

The recognition of Aboriginal self-government and the development of land claim agreements are reshaping environmental assessment across Canada. The Agency has worked with Aboriginal groups and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada to ensure that EA regimes developed under these comprehensive land claims, self-government agreements and economic sector arrangements meet key environmental assessment requirements and take specific Aboriginal interests into account.

The Supreme Court of Canada has established that the Crown — at the federal and provincial levels — may have a legal duty to consult, and possibly accommodate, Aboriginal peoples where it contemplates conduct that may adversely impact potential or established Aboriginal or treaty rights.

The Agency worked with other departments to develop new policies, processes, procedures and guidance materials to integrate Aboriginal Crown consultations into the process of environmental assessment and regulatory approval for major resource projects. The Agency also provided participant funding to Aboriginal peoples and groups, which enabled them to take part in public consultations associated with review panels and comprehensive studies.


I can't see establishing a high threshold mechanism to trigger a federal EIA process happening without there being a court challenge under Section 35 of the constitution.

This law firm outlines some interesting case studies on federal "duty to consult":

http://www.osler.com/resources.aspx?id=11445

Canada is also a signatory to an international multilateral agreement on EIAs and I'm not sure what obligations we have under that treaty.

Sometimes I wonder whether Harper and his clowns have any idea of how our government works or what's written in our laws. Remember how he was determined to make changes to the Canada Wheat Board WITHOUT amending the governing Act?
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