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Results: 1 - 10 of 10
View Linda Duncan Profile
NDP (AB)
View Linda Duncan Profile
2019-06-20 10:18 [p.29465]
Mr. Speaker, this will be my last opportunity to table a petition on behalf of my constituents.
It is my honour to table yet another petition from my constituents calling on the government to enact a Canadian environmental bill of rights. The petitioners state that Canadians share a deep concern about the environment and recognize its inherent value; that it is important to safeguard the right of present and future generations to a healthy and ecologically balanced environment; and that it is the federal government's duty, a public trust duty, to protect the environment.
Therefore, citizens should be given the tools to hold the government accountable to protect their environment.
View Linda Duncan Profile
NDP (AB)
View Linda Duncan Profile
2019-06-12 15:33 [p.28999]
Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions to present to the House today.
The first petition is e-petition 2172. It contains the signatures of 1,836 Albertans. The petitioners call on the government to enact my bill, Bill C-438, which proposes to establish a Canadian environmental bill of rights, which would extend to all Canadians the right to a clean, healthy and ecologically balanced environment.
View Linda Duncan Profile
NDP (AB)
View Linda Duncan Profile
2019-06-06 17:12 [p.28722]
moved that Bill C-438, An Act to enact the Canadian Environmental Bill of Rights and to make related amendments to other Acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
She said: Madam Speaker, there are many in this place who know that I have long awaited the opportunity to debate this bill again. It is Bill C-438, an act to enact the Canadian Environmental Bill of Rights and to make related amendments to other acts, because that includes an amendment to the bill of rights.
This is the fourth time that I have tabled this bill in 11 years in this place over three Parliaments. I believe the first time I tabled it was as soon as I was elected, somewhere between 2008 and 2009. That bill was debated and went through committee, and I will get into that in a minute. Today, in the brief time I am allotted, I hope to say what an environmental bill of rights is, what its origin is, why it is needed, and who has endorsed the need for an environmental bill of rights.
The environmental bill of rights legally extends the right to a healthy, ecologically balanced environment to Canadians. It confirms the duty of the Government of Canada to uphold its public trust duty to protect the environment. It amends the Canadian Bill of Rights to add environmental rights. It extends a bundle of rights and tools to Canadians, including having a voice in decisions impacting their health and environment, having standing before courts and tribunals, and having the power to hold the government accountable on effective environmental enforcement and on the review of law and policies. It extends protections for government whistle-blowers who release to Canadians information that is relevant to health and environmental impacts.
As I mentioned, I have tabled this bill four times over 11 years in three successive governments. My bill actually survived a challenge and gained a speaker's ruling in my favour when the Conservatives tried to crush it in 2009. It did proceed to second reading and on to committee. Sadly, it was essentially shredded at committee. It then died on the Order Paper when the early election was called.
I retabled it again, as I mentioned, in 2011 and 2015 and again in a revised, updated form in 2019.
Why is an environmental bill of rights needed? Community voices, the voices of non-governmental organizations and indigenous voices are absolutely critical triggers for action to protect health and the environment. Federal law and policy is made all the stronger with public engagement, and public rights are absolutely critical to government accountability. That has been my direct experience over the almost 50 years that I have been an environmental lawyer and advocate.
I want to now give a couple of examples of what happens when the public is engaged and their rights are upheld, and what happens when they are not.
One strong example is an engagement that I had, along with a small community organization in Alberta. We were dealing with how to improve air emissions from coal-fired power. Coal-fired power is still the major source of electricity in Alberta and Saskatchewan, and it is huge in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
Mercury from coal-fired power is the largest source of industrial mercury in North America, and mercury is a neurotoxin. It was the first substance listed by the federal government under the former Environmental Contaminants Act and was incorporated into the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, yet to this day, the federal government has never regulated mercury from coal-fired power.
I intervened as a volunteer in the review of the standards. It is a consensus process. I dug in my heels. If industry wanted to get their emissions standards for NOx, sulfur dioxide particulate, they had to agree to my recommendation that mercury had to be captured by that sector, and there had to be a law in place. To the credit of the Alberta government, they enacted that law.
That is a clear example showing that had my community not intervened, neither the federal nor the provincial government would have stepped forward, after 40 years of burning coal in Alberta, to actually stop the flow of mercury into our lakes.
Another example that we have been talking about over the last couple of months in this place is the issue of mercury at Grassy Narrows, and there is a different example. If the indigenous community at Grassy Narrows had been directly engaged in decisions on how those industrial operations were going to operate in their community and along the river and had been engaged on the issue of whether or not it was safe to put effluent that had high levels of mercury contamination into the river, and if they had been given the information on the potential health and environmental impacts and a seat at the table to have a say in how that plan should operate, I do not believe that we would be facing the health impacts and the expense of cleaning up that area now.
Those are the two differences in what happens when we have some environmental rights, the opportunity to be at the table and access to information. The other, Grassy Narrows, is an example of where we did not do that and there is a high cost, both health-wise and financially.
A number of times in this place I have raised concern with the impact of emissions on the indigenous community next to the Sarnia industrial complex and the failure of both levels of government to combat those and do proper health studies and control. That community has struggled just in trying to get basic information on what the emissions are, whether controls are in place and whether it is impacting their health.
Ongoing frustration was felt by indigenous communities in northern Alberta when they attempted to finally have a health impact study delivered in their communities on the impact of oil sands emissions on their health, despite the fact that there was a release quite some years ago about the high rate of rare cancers. A lot of work was also done by scientists, showing a buildup of contaminants in the Athabasca River, in the air and on the land.
Just this week, three chiefs in that area published an article in The Hill Times. They said the oil sands is the only activity in their area for employment and economic development. They invest in the oil sands. They demand to have a seat at the table on decisions as to whether or not they are going to allow the draining of the contaminated water in those tar ponds into the Athabasca River. It is going to contaminate the Athabasca River on to Lake Athabasca and on into the Northwest Territories. This has been going on for many years and the government, behind closed doors, has been making these decisions.
This is a perfect example of the need for an environmental bill of rights. If we had an environmental bill of rights, those communities would have the right to all that information, the right to the process that is going on, and the right to have a seat at the table in determining whether or not that is a wise decision.
The Mikisew Cree eventually had to go to UNESCO to demand that there be action on the impact of the Site C dam, the Bennett dam and the oil sands operations on the Peace-Athabasca Delta and the world heritage site. They issued directives, and we are still waiting for the government to act on those directives.
Two other final examples are pipelines. If the former Conservative government had actually listened to its advisers, if it had listened to first nations and if it had listened to the environmental community, it would have known it could not proceed with the northern gateway pipeline until it respected first nations' rights and interests. It was the same issue on the TMX pipeline, but as the court held, there was no consideration under the government obligations with regard to endangered species. Therefore, those projects have been stalled or cancelled.
If we had an environmental bill of rights, it would clarify the right to participate, the right to access to information and the right to access to experts and to legal counsel, so that one could come to the table in a constructive and informed way.
Who has endorsed this concept? Some provinces and territories have enacted an array of environmental rights, and some of those limited rights have been enacted in federal laws. Sadly, a good number of those laws were downgraded by the Harper government. That government downgraded the federal impact assessment process, thereby limiting the opportunities for people to participate and the kinds of projects that would be reviewed, including the expansion of oil sands projects and in situ operations.
The Liberals promised in the 2015 campaign that they would immediately strengthen federal environmental laws. Four years into it there is still no action on the report of my committee on reforming CEPA, which would have expanded environmental rights, and we do not know what the fate of Bill C-69 is. We are waiting with bated breath to know what will happen to all of those regressive amendments proposed in the Senate.
The North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation was a side agreement to NAFTA. It was enforced by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, where I had the privilege of working for four years as the head of law and enforcement. Under that agreement, Canada, along with Mexico and the United States, committed to public participation in conserving, protecting and enhancing the environment. It also committed to giving people the opportunity to comment on proposed environmental measures and the right to seek a report on effective environmental enforcement, stand before administrative, quasi-judicial and judicial proceedings, and have access to remedies. Those are exactly the provisions that are in the bill before us today.
Canada already committed years ago to move forward and uphold these rights. Therefore, I have tabled this proposal over and over again to try to encourage the government to respond to the current trade law. In a minute, I will speak about what the government could have done and was asked to do.
There is a side agreement to the proposed new trade law. However, I am sad to say it has been downgraded from the existing one. All of the trade deals that have been signed and sealed since NAFTA have downgraded the environmental rights enshrined in the side agreements.
The United Nations Human Rights Council special rapporteur was asked to look into human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a clean, safe, healthy and sustainable environment. He travelled the world for four years. On behalf of the Human Rights Council, he issued an environmental bill of rights framework for all nations to adopt. Guess what. It is exactly the framework in my bill.
Over 90 nations have extended these rights through constitutions, laws, court rulings, international treaties or declarations. Canada is far behind.
In 2009, the Aarhus convention was signed by many countries of the world, and in large part by European and Scandinavian nations. It committed the signatories to provide access to information, public participation decision-making and access to justice and environmental matters. Canada said it did not have to sign it because it was already extending those rights. In fact, it has not done that yet.
Recently, to the credit of many in this place, many members of Parliament signed the environmental rights pledge issued by the David Suzuki Foundation through the Blue Dot campaign. We had a big celebration on Monday night, celebrating the fact that so many parliamentarians were committed to enacting environmental rights.
This is something interesting. In 2018, the Liberals held a federal convention and passed a resolution. That resolution reminded the Liberals that in June 2010, all Liberals members of Parliament present in the House of Commons voted in favour of Bill C-469, which was my environmental bill of rights. The convention reminded the members that the United Nations recognized environmental rights as a basic human right. They then passed a resolution, saying that the Liberal Party of Canada urged the Government of Canada to enact legislation establishing a Canadian environmental bill of rights.
I have said all along, since the first day I was elected in 2008, that I would welcome the government of the day taking my bill and enacting a full-fledged bill. Here we are with a couple of weeks left in this place and nothing has occurred. That is why I am delighted I can debate the bill, and I look forward to the response of some of my colleagues.
To date, over 3,000 Canadians have signed petitions, both e-petitions and hard-copy petitions, saying that they support the enactment of this environmental bill of rights. Ecojustice, the David Suzuki Foundation and, most recently, the Social Justice Cooperative Newfoundland and Labrador have endorsed this bill and called for action by the government to enact this law.
I look forward to hearing the comments from other parties in the House. It has been my absolute pleasure to work with other members of Parliament on environmental matters. I know there are strong promoters of environmental rights here, and I hope to hear from them this evening.
View Linda Duncan Profile
NDP (AB)
View Linda Duncan Profile
2019-06-06 17:27 [p.28725]
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague. I thought we had been working since 1979, or I have been. She is a johnny-come-lately. We had a lot of fun working on many campaigns together.
The one thing I forgot to mention is that an endorsement of an environmental bill of rights is already in our party's platform. I am delighted to hear the representative for the Green Party say that she wants to put it forward in her platform. I am looking forward to it being in everybody's platform.
However, what I really want is for it not just to be in people's platforms. Whoever becomes government, if it is a minority and other parties are holding it accountable, let us hold it accountable to actually enact an environmental bill of rights.
View Linda Duncan Profile
NDP (AB)
View Linda Duncan Profile
2019-06-06 17:29 [p.28725]
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for his kind comments. It was a delight to work with him on the committee. He is one member who I will miss.
My bill was never intended to be the full environmental bill of rights. That is a job for the government. The Ontario environmental bill of rights is much deeper than mine and gives all the detail of the proceedings.
The framework of my bill would fully allow for the development of the mechanism of which the member is speaking. Many mechanisms exist at the provincial level that have not been carried forward to the federal level. It would be well worthwhile to have an open dialogue and consultation across the country about how best to set up this law when a government becomes elected and moves forward to enact it. I would hope it would move expeditiously.
I should mention that other provinces have put some of these measures into their specific laws. Quebec specifically has an environmental bill of rights, but it is not terribly detailed. I believe that in both Yukon and Northwest Territories laws there is a form of an environmental bill of rights. Therefore, we have examples we can turn to in building a federal one. We do not have to start at zero.
View Linda Duncan Profile
NDP (AB)
View Linda Duncan Profile
2019-06-05 17:04 [p.28598]
Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions to table.
The first is e-petition 1984 on the protection of the environment. This petition was established by a retired physician and member of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, Raquel Feroe. It represents 1,000 signatures in support of enacting an environmental bill of rights for Canada to impose public trust duty on the federal government to protect the environment and give a bundle of rights to citizens.
I am pleased to say that today e-petition 2172 was closed. I look forward to tabling that. It will be another 1,800 signatures, calling for an environmental bill of rights.
View Linda Duncan Profile
NDP (AB)
View Linda Duncan Profile
2019-04-05 12:12 [p.26746]
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-438, An Act to enact the Canadian Environmental Bill of Rights and to make related amendments to other Acts.
She said: Madam Speaker, I rise today to re-table the Canadian environmental bill of rights. While similar measures have been enacted by some of the provinces and territories, no such law has been enacted at the federal level. The bill would enact into federal domestic law international commitments made decades ago by Canada and measures recommended by the special rapporteur to the UN Human Rights Council.
First, my bill would enshrine the right of Canadians to a healthy, ecologically balanced environment.
Second, it would enshrine the Government of Canada's public trust duty to protect the environment, including legislating and enforcing environmental protection laws.
Third, it would extend to all Canadians the right to hold their government accountable through access to environmental information, participation in decisions impacting their environment and standing to seek judicial intervention where those rights would be denied.
Enactment of this bill has become all the more critical as environmental rights and protections have been eroded and promised reforms have not been forthcoming.
View Ron Liepert Profile
CPC (AB)
View Ron Liepert Profile
2018-06-12 18:59 [p.20770]
Madam Speaker, when I was elected as the member for Calgary Signal Hill in 2015, if I were asked what issues I might be speaking to in the House of Commons during my time as a member of Parliament, I doubt that the Fisheries Act would have been at the top of the list of the things I thought I would be making a few comments on.
I feel compelled to say a few words tonight, because this legislation is so similar to so many other bills the government has brought forward, and so many of those bills impact my riding and my province. I go back to the fact that Calgary Signal Hill is hardly anywhere near an ocean. In fact, our largest body of water is the Glenmore Reservoir, which supplies water to the city of Calgary. As my colleague just mentioned, we have a lot of ditches and puddles. If this legislation impacts ditches and puddles the way I believe it would, then it would impact our province and my riding.
It was mentioned earlier by my colleague from Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa that this piece of legislation would be a haven for environmental lawyers. If I follow that track and ask who was responsible for funding this Liberal Party in the last election and who was responsible for putting them here, there were a great many environmental activists, environmental lawyers, and all the left-leaning environmentalists who voted for the Liberal government, and now it is payback time.
Those environmental lawyers who were integral to electing people like the member for Calgary Centre are now being paid back for that support in 2015. When the Conservatives form the government in 2019 again, we will get rid of some of this legislation that is nothing more that the government trying to turn back the pages of success from Stephen Harper's time in office.
This legislation is another example of what we are seeing in the energy industry, where the government is bringing in legislation that would do nothing but add layers and layers of regulatory hurdles that in this case, fishermen are going to have to deal with, the same way the industry in Alberta is dealing with regulatory hurdles.
Later this evening we are going to be talking about a bill that would directly impact the energy industry in Alberta, a bill that if given the opportunity, I want to make a few comments on. That is why all of these pieces of legislation are intertwined. They are all part of an agenda to undo much of the good work that was done previously, but it is also payback time for Liberal supporters in the last election.
I had the opportunity, during the time the member for Cariboo—Prince George was having health issues, to sit on the committee that was studying this bill. Every time a group that was supportive of this legislation was asked for scientific evidence as to why this legislation was necessary, it did not have an answer. Every time a local industry appeared before the committee and expressed concerns about the bill, it was washed over by the Liberal members of the committee. Liberals voted down all the amendments that were put forward.
It was not the members of the Liberal caucus from the Maritimes and Atlantic Canada, who would be impacted by this legislation, who are bringing forth these terrible pieces of legislation. It is the bureaucrats in the Prime Minister's Office who have another agenda, the so-called green agenda, that is filtered through every piece of legislation that comes into the House.
It is those kinds of initiatives we consistently see from the government that get MPs like me up in the House to make some comments. It is so bad for the entire country, not just Atlantic Canada and the parts of the country that happen to be on the coast.
Now, I know members from the government will stand up and say that the Conservatives do not care about our oceans, fish, and whatnot. My colleague, the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, is going to speak in a little while. If there is someone who knows about the environment and is an expert on environmental matters, it is this particular gentleman and colleague in the House. I can hardly wait to hear what he has to say on this particular legislation.
This bill would also establish a number of advisory panels. Again, the Liberals have become very good at establishing advisory panels and appointing a bunch of their friends to them. I reflect back on a committee the government appointed about coal. This committee is travelling across the country today, meeting with so-called communities impacted by the decision to phase out coal. How many members of that 12-person committee actually come from coal communities in this country? There is one. The rest are all bureaucrats, environmentalists, and supporters of the Liberal government. What kind of a report do we think is going to come back? I am afraid that when these advisory panels are established by the Liberal government, they are going to come back with those same kinds of recommendations. They will be nothing but driven by environmentalists and the left-leaning parties in this country, and they are going to do nothing for our fishing industry or our environment.
I will just make a couple of other comments. My colleague from Parry Sound—Muskoka talked about so-called transparency and the government's attempt to camouflage some of its activities under the heading of transparency. I do not think there has ever been a government elected in this country that has been less transparent than the current government. Let us talk about transparency.
Let us talk about the carbon tax cover-up. The government talks about transparency, yet it will not reveal to Canadians what the carbon tax is going to cost families. Even though it actually has that information, it will not release it. If the government talks about transparency, it is obviously not walking the walk. That is a good example. I suspect that this bill would not do anything for transparency in the area of fisheries.
Those are a few comments I wanted to make. I have no intention of supporting this particular piece of legislation, much like most that comes before the House from the government. I look forward to the vote to see how members from Atlantic Canada on the Liberal backbenches will vote on this particular legislation. I hope they are all here to vote when the time comes, because we want to make sure that when we go to Atlantic Canada in the next election to talk to constituents in those ridings, we can point out how the Atlantic MPs from the Liberal government voted on this harmful piece of legislation.
View Linda Duncan Profile
NDP (AB)
View Linda Duncan Profile
2017-06-05 15:16 [p.12007]
Mr. Speaker, on World Environment Day, it gives me great pleasure to table a petition from Edmontonians in support Bill C-202, the Canadian environmental bill of rights, which I have tabled in this place three times.
The petitioners want this bill supported because it would impose a public trust duty on the government to protect the environment, it would extend the right to a protected environment to present and future generations, and it would provide legal tools to hold the government accountable when it fails to deliver on those obligations.
View Linda Duncan Profile
NDP (AB)
View Linda Duncan Profile
2015-12-09 15:12 [p.173]
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-202, An Act to establish a Canadian Environmental Bill of Rights and to make a related amendment to another Act.
She said: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to again table a Canadian environmental bill of rights. While similar measures have been enacted by the provinces and territories, no such law has been enacted at the federal level.
The bill enacts into domestic law international commitments made decades ago by Canada. First, it enshrines the right of Canadians to a healthy and ecologically balanced environment. Second, it enshrines the Government of Canada's public trust duty to protect the environment, including legislating and enforcing environmental protection laws. Third, it extends to Canadians the right to hold their government accountable through access to environmental information, participation in decisions impacting healthy environment, and standing to seek judicial intervention where those rights are denied. Passage of the bill has become all the more critical to redress the erosion of environmental rights and protections wrought by the previous government.
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