The Canadian Senate passed the omnibus federal government budget bill (Bill C-9) on July 12, 2010, with previously deleted sections reinstated. Some environmental groups fear these sections weaken Canada's federal environmental assessment review process. The changes allow the Environment Minister discretion to define scope of environmental assessments.
Government politicians praised the budget's passage as just what is needed for a healthy economy, while critics said the government has made it easier for corporations to submit environmental assessments with only limited scope, or to avoid assessment altogether.
"This sets us back 20 or 25 years in terms of environmental assessment in Canada. It's a huge step backwards," commented Sierra Club Canada executive director John Bennett.
Critics say changes will "gut" the Act, and particularly weaken environmental oversights for new energy projects. Assessments could be carried out, not by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, but by weaker, less experienced bodies.
"The whole point of this, it's clear, is to push through major energy project. In the wake of the BP disaster, this is not the time to weaken environmental reviews of offshore oil and gas," said Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party . "It will be a miracle if these changes don't result in a disaster in some part of the Canadian environment because of the weakening of the review process."
One positive changes is that federal authority for environmental assessments rests with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, whose budget has been beefed up by 60% a year, or $11 million.
View July 12, 2010 Hill Times article
View July 7, 2010 Winnipeg Sun article
View July 6, 2010 Sierra Club article
View July 8, 2010 Globe and Mail article
View May 11, 2010 Ecojustice press release
View July 12, 2010 Toronto Sun article
View July 13, 2010 Toronto Star article
View July 13, 2010 Globe-Net article
Source: Winnipeg Sun, Globe-Net