Below message is from Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, Mark Mattson. I worked for Mark in 2007 for eight months at Waterkeeper. Mark is one of Canada’s top environmental lawyers. If you enjoy your right to safely swim, drink and fish, be it at the cottage or the local beach, than please read his message.
As many of you know…our federal government announced some pretty drastic cuts to our environmental laws and process. These cuts are not modernization or efficiency updates to old laws…rather they are direct attacks on the protections we rely on for water we can swim drink and fish.
– the gov’t intends on cutting out federal environmental assessments (currently triggered by the Fisheries Act) for most projects even when they cause severe fish habitat destruction.
– the government is changing the criminal law provisions of the Fisheries Act to legalize activity that destroys wetlands, lakes, rivers etc unless the fish habitat destroyed has a defined economic value. In other words only environmental destruction of fish habitat that has a negative impact on valued commercial fish will be illegal.
What this means is that the birds, fish and natural environment that are not part of a vested interest or major industrial stakeholder will no longer deserve protection by our only important and powerful federal environmental law. It is the end of genuine environmental protection for all intents and purposes. It is the beginning of a new stakeholder driven ideology that demands the exploitation of everything that can facilitate tax revenue or profits unless it competes or conflicts with another exploitation venture, at which point some constraints will be put in place.
Our laws do not need modernizing…..they need to be given meaning and force….more so now than ever. So let’s not ignore the free and the increasingly powerful tool that social media provides us with to publicize our concerns. (Read more on this here.)