No matter how you frame it, we’re all connected to our natural surroundings – this has always been the case and always will be. We can’t afford to look at our ecosystems as stand-alone entities – they’re all intricately connected components of a global system. What affects one component of this global system will undoubtedly affect another.
Changes to federal environmental legislation being rolled into Bill C-38, the omnibus budget bill which is passing through Parliament this month, will make it harder to assess the full impacts of new development projects on nature. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the federal law that ensures that the environmental consequences of development proposals are carefully considered, will be replaced by much weaker legislation. The number of projects that are evaluated will drop dramatically; Cabinet and the Minister will have discretion to decide which projects will be assessed; binding timeframes of one or two years will be imposed on all federal review processes, regardless of scope; there will be less opportunity for public input; and many projects currently requiring a federal review will become the responsibility of provincial and territorial governments. All in all, a dramatic weakening of one of our key federal tools to protect the environment.
We believe that economic development and environmental protection are connected and that the long term health of our economy relies on assuring a healthy environment for the future. If Canada takes shortcuts and a piecemeal approach to assessing the impacts of economic development projects on environmental health in favour of fast-tracking new development projects, we run a great risk of tipping the balance in the wrong direction.
We believe healthy ecosystems are the foundation of a healthy economy, and not an obstacle to be overcome. On June 4th, we will be speaking out on behalf of strong laws to protect nature. We ask you to join us in sending the message to our government.
Visit www.blackoutspeakout.ca for more information and to join us in speaking out.
LINK: Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society