Earlier this month, I was in Ottawa during Federal Environment Week, lobbying with five other citizens climate lobbyists in partnership with other lobbyists from the Climate Action Network.
We began our week by participating in BlackOutSpeakOut, a national initiative that more than 18,000 Canadians and 350 civil society groups took part in June 4.
By contacting our MPs and blackening out our websites, we were expressing concerns about a 753 clause bill that will forever change the very fabric of Canada: the Omnibus Budget Bill C38.
Bill C38 contains many changes, including changes to Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, which will transfer much of the environmental assessment for mining and oil projects over to the provinces.
Please bear in mind climate and water both have no boundaries. Ontario lost 80 per cent of its apple crop this spring due to wonky weather consistent with climate change. And does not the Athabasca River, downstream from the oil sands mines, flow into the Yukon Territory?
As well, the bill contains many random things, such as closing down the Assisted Human Reproduction Agency. This is the 21st century. Canada needs guidelines, studies and enforcement of reproductive technologies in Canada. Now we have none, and because of a clause in a budget bill?
Who or what will benefit from Bill C38, especially those environmental changes, but the random things, too? Could it be the countries and corporations that have bought our oil sands and want it shipped out of Canada as soon as possible, especially countries that are not used to Canada’s environmental laws?
And could it be that the random things in the budget bill are there to divert the energies of activists and thinkers and spread us even more thinly? I hope not, but why are these changes happening so quickly?
If there is an oil spill, who will be accountable for subsequent loss of farmland, fisheries and general economic opportunities. Some faceless corporation or a faraway country that was just following the new laws made by our government or the Canadian taxpayer?
Let’s just talk about power for a moment.
Did you know this bill will give the Privy Council executive powers to override decisions made by the National Energy Board (which is the federal overseer of the environmental protection on oil projects) on whether oil projects go through?
That is immense power in the hands of a small number of people.
Loss of Canadian sovereignty (power) in Bill 38 can be found in the Ship Rider Clause, which will allow US law enforcement agents the powers to arrest Canadians in cross-border operations on the waterways.
The lead story on the CBC on June 4 was on the ongoing mercury poisoning of the people of Grassy Narrows and White Dog First Nations. Sixty years after mercury was poured into their waters, Canada is about to turn back the clock on environmental assessment.
I oppose this bill. The environmental changes need review and the random stuff has to go into separate bills.
To all the politicians who stood up and down and up and down for 30-plus hours, thank you.
Posted by Vivian Scinto