New Democrats working to protect Canada’s wilderness
March 18th, 2009 - 12:59pm
OTTAWA – Hidden within Stephen Harper’s budget were sweeping measures, that threaten the lakes and rivers where Canadians paddle, fish and play. During debate, New Democrats proposed amendments to the budget bill which would have saved the Navigable Waters Protection Act (NWPA) but, with the help of the Liberals, the Conservatives rammed their changes through. New Democrats are now continuing to pressure the government to reinstate the environmental protections within the NWPA.
“The government is using the excuse of removing ‘red tape’ to grant the Transport Minister unprecedented powers to decide which waterways are worth protecting and which are not,” said New Democrat Natural Resource critic Nathan Cullen. “This is completely undemocratic and will cause irreparable damage to our precious lakes and rivers.”
Environmental triggers within the NWPA that would have ensured the undertaking of a proper assessment prior to starting a construction project over or next to one of Canada’s waterways have been replaced by the unilateral authority of the Transport Minister to grant approval for works, without any Parliamentary review or public disclosure. New Democrat MPs are continuing to work with concerned citizens and groups to ensure that navigation and environmental rights are not abandoned in the name of expediency.
“The long term consequences of any given project need to be carefully considered and weighed against the benefits before it can be allowed to go ahead. With the NWPA stripped down, that process has been abandoned,” said Cullen. “It’s unacceptable that one individual has the sole authority to approve the construction of, for example, a dam, boom, or causeway.”
“The very proposition of these changes proves that the Conservatives don’t understand the importance of our lakes, rivers and seas,” added Cullen. “There is no way they can be trusted to protect our environment.”