2012-06-04 Black Out Speak Out
Our land, water and climate are all threatened by the latest federal budget. Proposed changes to Canadian law will weaken environmental rules and silence the voices of those who seek to defend them. All of our voices are at risk. Silence is not an option.
Speak out on June 4, 2012 in defence of two core Canadian values: nature and democracy.
In its April 26, 2012 proposed budget, the federal government has included many changes to significantly weaken Canada’s most important environmental laws. Today, AWA joins with BlackOutSpeakOut and hundreds of organizations across Canada to protest against efforts to silence all of our voices.
- Charities are being targeted for simply exercising their legal right to advocate for things like laws to fight global warming.
- Canadians' participation in Parliament is being disrespected by shoehorning these changes into a massive budget law that drastically reduces the amount of consultation on a whole variety of topics.
- Nature is being put at serious risk with the replacement of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act with a totally new law, under which Ottawa will play a much smaller role in protecting people from harmful projects.
- Too much power is in the hands of too few as permits that allow the destruction of habitat for fish and threatened or endangered species will now be issued behind closed doors without public scrutiny, if they are required at all.
- Trusted advisors to government that provide high-quality analysis for balanced environmental policy are being ignored as the 2012 budget eliminates the funding for a valuable government advisory body – the National Roundtable on the Environment and Economy.
AWA is most concerned about these three aspects of the proposed budget:
- Poor process - The 420 page budget bill proposes to amend 60 laws and eliminate six others. Almost two-thirds of the bill is concerned with major environmental laws.
- Weaker Environmental Assessments (EAs) - EAs are supposed to ensure that individual and cumulative impacts of development projects are understood beforehand and reduced. The budget measures remove from law the definition of which projects must receive EAs, leaving the decision to ministerial discretion.
- Weaker fish-bearing water protection – What’s good for aquatic life is good for our own water security: healthy rivers protect water quality, prevent floods and prevent droughts. Since 1977, the Fisheries Act has protected fish habitat. The budget measures go in entirely the wrong direction by allowing Cabinet to order protection only to fish (and not habitat – how can there be fish without the clean fresh water needed to survive?) in identified fisheries and making it easier to suspend protection.
A full discussion of AWA's concerns is outlined in this May 14th Action Alert.
We all need to let our representatives know that bundling non-budgetary changes into a budget, and the substantial weakening of Canada’s environmental laws, is not acceptable.
Please write Prime Minister Stephen Harper and your Member of Parliament to ask for these key changes in the proposed budget:
- Remove non-budget changes from the budget, and restore Parliament and Canadians’ role in considering changes to important environmental laws.
- Fisheries Act: strengthen, not weaken, crucial habitat protection for Canada’s fish and enhance the department’s scientific and regulatory capacity.
- Environmental Assessment: keep in law what projects and what effects must be reviewed; do not let provincial reviews substitute for federal ones. The Supreme Court confirmed in 2010 that there was no duplication and that the current law already promoted good cooperation with provinces.
Stephen Harper’s e-mail address is: email@example.com.
Your MP’s address is firstname.lastname@example.org. To find your MP’s name, click here and enter your postal code.
Please also visit the BlackOutSpeakOut website where you can learn more about these, and other, disturbing changes to Canada's environmental laws that are included in the budget, as well as other actions you can take to 'speak out'.
Join us and speak out for wilderness and democracy.