Environmental Bill of Rights enters Parliament

Environmental Bill of Rights enters Parliament

By Adam Driedzic

Look forward to 2010, especially the list of Private Members’ business in the House of Commons.  An Environmental Bill of Rights has passed first reading and is entitled to  debate in the house.  Bill C-469 combines substantive rights to healthy environment with procedural rights to increased public participation in the lawmaking process.  With similar legislation already in place in several U.S. states and four Canadian jurisdictions, rights-based environmental protection is becoming a new hallmark of democratic society.  Historical documents show that Ottawa has recognized public support for environmental rights since at least the early 1990s.

Bill C-469 was introduced on October 29, 2009 by Linda Duncan (NDP).

Learn about Environmental Rights.

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6 Comments
  • Update on federal Environmental Bill of Rights « Environmental Law Centre (Alberta)
    Posted at 11:33h, 04 May Reply

    […] than, many provincial environmental rights laws. For more information see our previous post: Environmental Bill of Rights Enters Parliament. The debate can be heard using ParlVu from the House of Commons website.  The May 6th sitting […]

  • Corbin Devlin
    Posted at 16:47h, 04 December Reply

    Have environmental bills of rights had significant practical effects in those jurisdictions that have them?

    Good work implementing the blog.

    • adriedzic
      Posted at 11:57h, 08 December Reply

      The practical affects vary. The ON act is relied on for process rights in tribunals. The YK act is used as a regulatory platform. The PQ act is often cited in judgments but I don’t know the context. Capacity to litigate likely affects the use of these tools. Bill C-469 responds with costs immunity and advance costs provisions.

    • Laura Bowman
      Posted at 12:15h, 08 December Reply

      In Ontario the EBR has been very successful in terms of access to information (environmental registry), as well as in support for ENGOs and review of government initiatives through the creation of the Environmental Commissioner. Groups have used it to successfully oppose project approvals and participate in a variety of processes.

      However, the litigation, review and investigation options under the Ontario EBR are resource-intensive and this is a significant barrier to the effectiveness of the EBR.

      A very good overview of problems with implementation of the Ontario EBR can be found here:
      http://www.eco.on.ca/eng/index.php/pubs/eco-publications/broken-promises-mnr-s-failure-to-safeguard-environmental-rights.php

      It is worth noting that the Ontario EBR does not actually provide clear and enforceable environmental “rights” to a clean environment in the same way the the proposed federal legislation does. For example in Ontario, the right exists only in the preamble and the purpose section.

      The proposed federal EBR is stronger in many different ways to legislation that exists currently in other places. It provides clearer rights (s.9) including amending the Canadian Bill of Rights to give environmental rights a quasi-constitutional status. It provides a wider range of remedies (judicial review, civil actions, investigations) without the same kinds of barriers that exist in Ontario EBR.

  • Snowy Day « Leah Orr
    Posted at 13:50h, 04 December Reply

    […] finally posted the ELC’s first blog entry. This is exciting because a) I didn’t write it, which means at least one staff member is […]

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