The Canadian Conservative Party, spearheaded by Prime Minister Harper, has passed an omnibus bill C-45 without any amendments. The bill alters the Navigable Waters Protection Act which used to protect 2.5 million rivers and lakes across the country. The new bill only covers 97 lakes and 62 rivers which are now subject to approval under this legislation. The changes mean municipalities, cottagers and homeowners won’t need federal approval for small projects such as culverts or docks.
Critics and green living enthusiasts say this leaves river, lakes and oceans vulnerable to exploitation and paves the way for fracking, mining and the controversial Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline to move forward.
The lack of environmental assessments and for the public to appeal construction projects favours developers over those who wish to protect Canada’s waterways.
Opposition candidates were unsuccessful in passing amendments, but weighed in with their own concerns: “With the exception of three oceans, 97 lakes and 62 rivers in all of Canada, the act will no longer apply automatically to projects that have a direct impact on waterways… As a result of the Conservatives’ bullheaded ideology, thousands of waterways will no longer be protected automatically and even fewer environmental impact assessments will be carried out by Transport Canada. The provinces will have to fill the void, without any compensation, of course,” Ms. Élaine Michaud, Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, NDP.
“The first nations of northwestern Ontario are concerned that their rights have been trampled by Bill C-45, the government’s omnibus budget bill. Concerns include leasing of reserve land, on-reserve voting rights and scrapping the Navigable Waters Protection Act, which reduced protection of millions of our lakes and rivers to less than 200. No longer protected are northwestern Ontario rivers like the Kaministiquia, or the Nipigon River, home of the largest speckled trout in the world. Neither has the Prime Minister consulted with scientists, academics, small businesses, Canadian workers, NGOs, provincial premiers, or Parliament, including his own backbenchers,” Bruce Hyer- MP for Thunder Bay.
Take action! Sign the petition against C-45 here.
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