VANCOUVER, COAST SALISH TERRITORIES– The Federal Court of Canada has ruled that Canada failed to uphold its constitutional duties to the Mikisew Cree First Nation when it rammed through sweeping changes to federal environmental laws in 2012. West Coast Environmental Law congratulates the Mikisew Cree on their successful legal challenge to the federal government’s 2012 changes to environmental protection and assessment laws.
“The gutting of federal environmental laws in 2012 through massive omnibus budget bills occurred rapidly and undemocratically, leading to a massive outcry from citizens across the country and sparking the Idle No More movement,” noted Jessica Clogg, Executive Director & Senior Counsel, West Coast Environmental Law. “The courts have now confirmed that the federal government also acted unconstitutionally in ramming through these changes without consulting First Nations.”
The Federal Court found that legal changes to reduce protection for fish habitat and waterways and to eliminate environmental assessments of many projects had the potential to negatively affect Mikisew’s fishing, hunting and trapping rights under Treaty 8, thus triggering a duty to consult when the massive 2012 omnibus “budget bills” were introduced in Parliament.The Federal Court ruled Friday that this duty was not met.
“This Federal Court decision should be a wake-up call for the federal government,” said Clogg. “It is time to begin the process of rebuilding and strengthening our safety net of federal environmental laws through an open and transparent process and in full collaboration with First Nations governments.”
West Coast Environmental Law Association contributed affidavit evidence in the case detailing the nature, scope and breadth of the 2012 federal environmental law rollbacks.
Jessica Clogg, West Coast Environmental Law Association, 604-601-2501 (office) 778-327-8964 (cell)