Back to top

Legal Backgrounder – Bill C-43: A threat to environmental safety and democracy

Federal environmental law rollbacks, Canada Marine Act, Environmental assessment, Species at risk
Anna Johnston

On October 23, 2014, the federal government introduced Bill C-43, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 11, 2014 and other measures (also called the “Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2”). An omnibus bill over 475 pages long, Bill C-43 makes changes to over 50 laws and regulations. Buried in Division 16 of the Bill are proposed changes to the Canada Marine Act that, if adopted, would pose a serious threat to legal protection from and public oversight of environmental threats from activities that occur in ports, like coal storage and LNG facilities.

Bill C-43 would give Cabinet broad powers to offload regulatory, administrative and judicial responsibility for activities in ports to any person, including industry itself. The amendments would also allow the federal government to sell lands to port authorities. As a result, terrestrial species at risk on those lands would no longer be protected under Canada’s Species at Risk Act, and certain activities would no longer trigger environmental reviews under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012.

The proposed amendments do not contain the necessary checks and balances to ensure that environmental, health and safety risks are considered or that the public is able to meaningfully participate in decisions related to port activities. West Coast’s Legal Backgrounder – Bill C-43: A threat to environmental safety and democracy explains the legal significance of Division 16 of Bill C-43 and some examples of what the changes could allow to happen.

Related resources

Read our environmental law alert - Déjà vu – again? Another omnibus budget bill, more federal environmental law rollbacks - summarizing the conclusions of our the backgrounder.

We have also created a tool for you to write a letter to Minister Oliver and your MP calling for them to stand up for the environment and democracy and reject those harmful amendments today.

When you’ve finished, sign our petition to save Canada’s environmental laws, and tell the government the environment – and your voice – matter.

Publication Date: 
December 1, 2014
Publication Pages: 
West Coast Environmental Law Association
Publication City: 
Publication Format: