Public opposition to environmental rollbacks buried in the Budget Implementation Act is growing across the country. The Act contains sweeping changes to Canada's oldest water law, the Navigable Waters Protection Act. The changes allow the Cabinet and the Minister of Transportation to undermine navigation rights on rivers without Parliamentary oversight or public warning.
"In all my years as an environmental lawyer, I have never seen anything like this," says Mark Mattson. "Across the country, paddlers, outdoors people, and First Nations are standing up to say any threat to our right to navigate public waters must be dealt with properly, in the light of day."
On Monday, public interest organizations representing vital industries like recreation and tourism, and environmentalists appeared before the Finance Committee during an extended evening session. They expressed concerns about the rollbacks, including the elimination of science-based decision-making.
The Budget Implementation Act will return to the House of Commons for more debate, and the NWPA amendments are expected to be controversial.
"We can't let our federal government dismantle environmental regulations in a closed-door process that excludes public consultation, and ignores the interests of our communities and the environment," says Meredith Brown, Ottawa Riverkeeper. "Amendments to NWPA need to be removed from the Budget Implementation Act, so the issue can be brought before the public for meaningful consultation, scientific review and debate."
For further information: Mark Mattson: (416) 861-1237; Meredith Brown: (613) 321-1120