[Update - noon, 1 April 2015: April Fools'! But it shouldn't be a joke to expect strong environmental laws from the Canadian Government. If you agree, click here to send a message to the Prime Minister.]
Federal government tables greenest budget bill in Canadian history, surprising environmental groups
VANCOUVER, BC – West Coast Environmental Law Association applauds the new 2015-16 budget bill, the Sustainable Jobs, Growth within Limits, and a Healthy Environment and Prosperity for Future Generations Act announced today by the federal government. In a burst of apparent spring fever, the bill introduces strong new laws that protect health and the environment, and in a stunning reversal pretty much solves all of Canada’s environmental problems.
“This bill really took us by surprise,” said Jessica Clogg, Executive Director & Senior Counsel, West Coast Environmental Law Association. “It creates a new carbon tax, outlaws pollution, cracks down on corporate rule-breakers, and restores democracy to environmental decision-making. We’re so glad the federal government has showed its true colours and pulled through in the end.”
Unlike 2012’s Bills C-38 and C-45 – sweeping omnibus budget bills which axed most of Canada’s oldest and important environmental protections– today’s bill puts Canada on a path to a thriving economy and healthy communities. The changes have been welcomed with open arms by Canada’s leading environmental organizations. “We really thought our federal government didn’t care for the environment or for healthy communities”, said Anna Johnston, Staff Counsel at West Coast Environmental Law Association. “Their last few bills almost had us convinced of that. But it looks like they were just kidding all along.”
Among the new laws contained in the budget bill is theFair Taxes for our Great-Grandchildren Act, which imposes a federal carbon tax to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ensure a competitive economy, the National Security from Toxic Threats Act, and the Protecting Children from Greenhouse Gas Violators Act, which ensures that criminal emitters of greenhouse gas pollution are held accountable for their actions. It also enshrines the right to a healthy environment in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and ensures that decisions regarding resource development across Canada will be made with due regard for citizens' democratic rights, including free, prior informed consent from First Nations. A late addition was the Respecting Communities Act Part 2 which allows all community members and groups affected by an oil pipeline or tanker project to fully participate in National Energy Board hearings.
“We are thrilled the government has decided to replace its Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act with a new Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Corporate Practices Act, which outlaws climate denialism and deceptive public relations tactics”, said Clogg. “The new Pride in National Climate Leadership Act is world class. What’s more, Canada is now required to become carbon-neutral by April 1, 2030. Now that’s leadership!”
Stephen Harper was seen after a press conference in Ottawa yesterday wearing a new green sweater vest and waving goodbye to Big Oil representatives before driving off in his new Tesla.
You can read the table of contents of the new Bill C-777 here.
For comment April 1st until 12 pm: Jessica Clogg, Executive Director & Senior Counsel, West Coast Environmental Law Association, 604-601-2501.