The federal government has hidden important changes to environmental and pipeline policy inside the omnibus budget bill.
Ottawa (30 April 2012) - The recently tabled federal budget, Bill C-38, repeals the Kyoto Protocal Implementation Act (KPIA) ending any formal commitment Canada had to the greenhouse gas emissions treaty.
Canada's environmental assessments will be under strict timelines to limit the length of hearings. All but the largest projects will be downloaded to provincial governments. As if to underline the true intention of these changes, the new bill gives federal cabinet the final say over oil and gas pipelines.
The Fisheries Act will be curtailed to focus only on major waterways, leaving the door open for pollution of our ponds, streams and river tributaries. In addition, the Species at Risk Act is in jeopardy of being ineffective due to changes.
The NDP said the changes to environmental rules are “reckless” and more far-reaching than the government had previously let on.
“It’s hard to grasp the audacity of the Harper government when it comes to the environment,” said NDP environment critic Megan Leslie, adding that Ottawa will be “rubber-stamping” pipeline approvals in the future.
“Bill C-38 repeals the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) and replaces it with an entirely new act with a very narrow, limited approach,” says Green Party Leader, Elizabeth May. “CEAA will no longer assess impacts on bears, caribou, beavers, forests and more. Only impacts relating to fish, aquatic species and migratory birds will be considered.” Of the 400 pages in this omnibus budget bill, 150 of them deal with environmental regulations and policy. Critics say such sweeping changes should not be rushed through.
"It is an affront to democracy to bury such far-reaching changes to laws Canadians depend upon to help protect our environment in the budget implementation bill in order to avoid public scrutiny," Greenpeace spokesman Keith Stewart wrote in an email.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE