Environmental Reform in Canada

The federal government’s use of an omnibus budget bill to enact measures affecting a variety of different areas has come under sustained attack(you can also listen to the comments of my colleague, Stéphane Beaulac, from the three-minute mark here).

Whatever one thinks about the substance of the underlying reforms, one can certainly quibble about the process the federal government has followed. Exposing the relevant provisions to the usual process of parliamentary scrutiny would hardly hurt and may even help the overhaul the federal government envisages.

Beyond that, however, the substance of the reforms should presumably be judged on the merits. Via Norton Rose comes an even-handed overview of the proposed changes to environmental regulation. There appears to be much give-and-take in the proposed legislation: fewer decision-makers will be obliged to conduct environmental assessments, but their decisions will now be binding rather than recommendatory; fewer effects of proposed projects are to be considered, but this seems designed to exclude consideration of matters within provincial jurisdiction; strict time-lines for decisions are imposed, but provision is made for public participation in the decision-making process; and the burden of work on the federal authorities in the environmental assessment process is reduced, but by permitting delegation to provincial authorities.

All in all, a good primer on the substance of the proposed changes. But it probably should be read in conjunction with the comments of those who fear the gutting of environmental protection.

This content has been updated on June 11, 2014 at 09:48.