Majority of Provinces Fail on Provision of Environmental Rights

For Immediate Release

Friends of the Earth Canada
Contact: 

Beatrice Olivastri, CEO, (613) 241-0085x26 or (613) 724-8690 cellular
Jody Lownds, Environmental Justice campaigner (250) 814-4117 cellular

Majority of Provinces Fail on Provision of Environmental Rights

Friends of the Earth Canada releases First Annual Score Card on Environmental Rights

OTTAWA - On the eve of World Environment Day, Friends of the Earth Canada releases its first annual Score Card of
Environmental Rights available in law to the people of Canada.  In the
face of inadequate action by governments to protect our climate, water
and other environmental assets, FOE assessed the rights available to
individuals in Canada to take action to protect the environment.

Friends of the Earth determined that nine out of 13 political
jurisdictions fail to provide adequate environmental rights to
individuals residing in that jurisdiction. FOE analyzed  environmental
rights “on the books” of each province and territory and of the federal
government and scored them from “A” for Excellent down to “F” for No
Effort.  A grade of “C+” was necessary to achieve a passing grade. 

Six of the 13 jurisdictions have unacceptable provisions for the
most basic of environmental rights – that of information and
notification (Alberta, Newfoundland, Northwest Territories, Nova
Scotia, PEI and Saskatchewan).  Only five jurisdictions received a
passing score for their public participation rights (Yukon “B”, Ontario
“B”, and British Columbia, Northwest Territories and Quebec all with
“C+”) and only two passed on the requirement for Government Response or
Feedback (Ontario “B” and Canada “C+”)

“Here’s a prime case where green rhetoric has oversold the reality
of environmental rights for the people of Canada.  The inadequacy of
our environmental rights is shocking,” says Beatrice Olivastri, CEO,
Friends of the Earth Canada.  “Furthermore, we are dismayed to see the
discrepancy between jurisdictions in the environmental rights afforded
Canadians.  Every individual in Canada should have equal environmental
rights to do their part to protect the environment.”

“This cross-Canada snapshot reveals a surprising absence of
environmental rights measures that should be the building blocks for
democracy,” says the report author Jody Lownds, FOE’s Environmental
Justice Campaigner. “We want to work with people and groups across
Canada to make sure all individuals in Canada in every province and
territory can access equal environmental rights.” In order to do so,
Friends of the Earth has developed a “Straight A” score card to describe what constitutes a full suite of environmental rights.
 
Friends of the Earth’s First Annual Environmental Rights Score Card assigns final grades:
- three
jurisdictions are the worst performers – Alberta, Saskatchewan and
Prince Edward Island scored “D” Newfoundland and Labrador hovered
slightly above with “D+”
- four jurisdictions scored failing grades of “C” or “C-“ namely British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia
- three jurisdictions scored average performances of “C+” Quebec, the Northwest Territories and the federal government.
- The Yukon received the highest score of “B+”.
- Ontario received the second highest score of “B”.

Friends of the Earth cautions that there is probably an
implementation gap – even when these environmental rights are on the
books, they may not be satisfactorily delivered.  “That’s what seems to
be happening now,” says Jody Lownds.  “Even when jurisdictions provide
in law for environmental rights, the existing rights are not always
fully implemented by the governments in charge or perhaps not widely
used by citizens.”

As a case in point, there is a seldom used provision under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999
wherein an individual can request an investigation if they believe
there is a violation of that Act or regulations made under that Act. 
Earlier this week, FOE helped Mr. Allan Williams, a Newfoundland
resident, use this provision to request an investigation of alleged
violations by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador for releases
of PCBs to the environment in excess of regulated limits.

Detailed Report - Standing on Guard: Enviromental Rights in Canada, 2009

 

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