The non conformer's Canadian Weblog

January 26, 2009

Greens accuse Harper Government

Greens accuse Harper Government of Planning Gutting of Conservation Legislation

OTTAWA– With the Conservative Government’s announcement of upcoming changes to environmental legislation, including the Environmental Assessment Act and the Navigable Waters Protection Act, the Green Party of Canada is worried that important safeguards will be dismantled.

“We would agree that the Environmental Assessment process in Canada needs revision,” said Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada, “but that doesn’t mean throwing out important legislation.  The problem right now is that the legislation is seen as an obstacle to development instead of a meaningful part of the development process. Strong environmental legislation has been proven by Porter studies at the Harvard School of Business to result in a stronger economy.”

The biggest problem with the assessment process may be that the consultants who carry out the assessments are hired by the proponent of the project.  Often, the reports are written in such a way as to downplay any environmental impacts. “It’s a little like leaving the fox in charge of the henhouse,” said Ms. May.  “However, the legislation plays an important role and the parts that are working must be upheld.”

In response to a comment made by John Baird, Minister of Transport, that the legislation is antiquated in that they protect tiny creeks, Adriane Carr, Deputy Leader of the Green Party, said, “The Harper government has repeatedly shown a lack of scientific understanding, this is just another example.  Mr. Baird should realize that small waterways are a crucial piece of habitat for many wild creatures and are deserving of protection.”

Mr. Baird was severely criticized for his handling of the Environmental Assessment surrounding the proposed expansion of the Irving Oil refinery in New Brunswick when he made comments on CBC radio supporting the project before the official assessment was complete.

The Navigable Waters Protection Act is a significant piece of conservation legislation. Anglers and boaters have relied on it, as have environmental groups, to protect environmental standards. The Green Party of Canada is of the opinion that Harper must not be allowed to trample environmental legislation using the recession as an excuse.

“The Harper government does not care about the future of our children and their right to a clean environment,” said Ms. May.  “History will judge him and hopefully so will the Canadian people in the next election.”

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Contact:
Michael Bernard
Communications Officer
Green Party of Canada
Office : 613 562 4916 ext. 244
Cell : 613 614 4916
Fax : 613 482 4632

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