Austerity obliterates ecology: Canadian budget to make environmental impact statements optional, class eco-groups as money-launderers

Chris sez, "The budget bill currently before the Canadian Parliament (Bill C-38) does a bunch of things that don't seem to have much to do with the budget--including completely gutting Canada's federal environmental laws. The Environmental Assessment Act is being completely repealed and replaced with a regime that gives the government the power to basically approve any project they want without any environmental review--including mining projects in Alberta's Athabasca Tar Sands and the Canadian portion of the Keystone XL pipeline. And while environmental protections are being slashed, $8 million is going to the Canada Revenue Agency to audit charities (with the understanding that the main targets will be environmental charities--which the government has labelled as money launderers working for foreign interests). By putting this in a budget bill, the Conservative government has ensured that there will be minimal debate on these changes, and they will almost certainly be passed by the majority-Conservative parliament. Canada's largest environmental groups have organized a website blackout on June 4 to protest and raise awareness of these changes."

BlackOutSpeakOut - Welcome / Bienvenue (Thanks, Chris!)


  1. I’ve never quite understood why the federal environmental assessment process is actually necessary or beneficial. It’s essentially a straight-up duplication of the EA process at the provincial / territorial level, so eliminating federal review of resource projects isn’t anywhere near the catastrophe that this site is making it out to be.

    Putting it in a budget bill is sleazy though. I think Canada, like America, badly needs a law that limits the scope of legislation to a narrowly defined issue that’s accurately represented in the title of a bill. 

    1. I came here to mention just that. BUT — and it’s a pretty big “but” — while there’s overlap between provincial and federal EIAs, there are also areas unique to each agency. 
      For example, if you’re affecting fish habitat in any way, you’ll have to get approval from DFO (dept. of Fisheries and Oceans), but if you’re affecting fisheries, as in specifically impacting the habitat of commercially harvested fish, that’s under provincial jurisdiction. Yes, despite “fisheries” being part of the DFO’s name, it’s not the one responsible for fisheries in this case.

      All of which, to me, leaves a pretty clear gap: If you’re doing something that affects fish habitat but that fish has no commercial value, eliminating the DFO from the equation leaves a gap in regulatory oversight.

      None of this changes the sleaze factor of trying to sneak this in by way of a budget bill. But then, given the government we’re talking about, I fail to be surprised.

    2. The weird thing is I thought there was some kind of rule in place about limiting the scope of legislation. Because previous governments actually did keep bills to one issue or a few related issues. They might do a large bill that was about more than one thing, but there wouldn’t be an amendment funding a bridge added to a crime bill.

      The only reason I can think of for the Reform Conservative Party to do everything they’re doing in one bill is so the media can’t devote enough airtime to go over each issue. Or maybe they’re worried Elections Canada will invalidate the elections in some ridings because of the robocalls, causing them to lose their majority so they want to push their agenda through quickly while they have a chance.

    3.  “…isn’t anywhere near the catastrophe that this site is making it out to be.”

      hyperbole on a BB political story? why i never…

      1. It’s called the Thin End of the Wedge, my friend.
        See what Pastor Niemöller had to say about it.

        1. of course it is. we’re always taking the first step towards the end of everything. have been, since the dawn of time.

          1. It’s not like societies have tipped over the edge into fascism or totalitarianism dozens of times in the last century. Why be alarmist, eh?

          2. for the sake of argument, i’ll grant you “a dozen”.

            that gives the Chicken Littles a record of 12 out of 900,000,000,000,000 predictions.

            awesome job!

          3. And the fact that several of those wee incidents caused deaths in the tens of millions?

    4. As invictus point outs there are areas and criteria which aren’t covered by the province and now won’t be covered at all.

      Also one of the reasons that it exists on a federal level is because some projects expand beyond the provincial area. Alberta might want to do run a project off a lake or river that connects to British Columbia. However, Alberta will naturally be more concerned about it’s own province and it’s people and government generally have a lot less environmental concern than say BC.  Having environmental assessments on the federal level should address issues like this. Especially when it comes to some thing like air pollution that does not stay within provincial borders.

  2. Seriously Canada your government is evil, cartoon level of evil, do something about it.

  3. If the Canadian government wishes to outdo the US govt., could it please be in an area other than predatory Capitalism?

    1. Or pigheaded insistence on outdated approaches to crime & punishment that they insist will work, despite having been proven to be useless (if not outright counterproductive) by plenty of other jurisdictions.
      Or sneaky, backdoor attempts to control womens’ right to choice.
      Or badly-disguised attempts to reverse Canada’s landmark recognition of same-sex relationships.
      Or ruthlessly silencing any dissenting voice, either through ironhanded control of a thoroughly-cowed parliament or by (not-so) subtle threats to the media.
      Or invading other countries on trumped-up charges that have nothing to do with what’s really going on in those countries, but have everything to do with stoking Stevie Harper’s image of himself as a ‘statesman’ leading a ‘warrior nation’. (gag)

      I could go on, but I have to go get my daughter off to school. While there are still public schools in Canada.

      1. Don’t forget killing off the National Archives – with evidently a great possibility that a lot of it will be lost – and eliminating the federal libraries.

        I guess getting rid of Canadian history will make it easier for the Harper Regime to rewrite history as they see fit.

        As well as ensuring that any scientist engaged in any research remotely related to climate change is subject to government review before they can publish any research, talk to the press etc. In a publish or die academic environment this likely means most scientists will end up shying away from any climate research.

        The War on Environmentalists is just the latest sally of the Conservative party under Harper. There is worse to come I am sure.

        Personally, I see this government as the biggest threat Canada has ever faced. I am SO ashamed my fellow citizens saw fit to elect this clown to a majority government. I don’t honestly think there is a single abuse of power of which Harper wouldn’t take advantage. As long as he has the majority, Canada is at risk.

        1. There was a wonderful book written a few years ago called “Harperland” by Lawrence Martin. In it, there are quotes from people in his cabinet and elsewhere, that describe a level of fear of what may happen if Harper ever succeeds in getting a majority. Well, it’s happening to us right now, and many of the institutions that I have grown up cherishing as a Canadian, are being systematically dismantled by this angry, fat, bully we now call PM. 

          As deviousasti says below, the monarchy is the head of state. I wonder if there has ever been a time when the monarchy / governor general has stepped in to remove the sitting PM and his party because of egregious crimes against the country…

      2. Outdated? Well, you folks do have a monarch and a royal family and a Governor -General who is sworn to them. The Harper government is just trying to take you back to the dark ages, is all.

  4. “(with the understanding that the main targets will be environmental charities–which the government has labelled as money launderers working for foreign interests)” You know, it’s funny how well this describes “the harper govt.” in so many ways.  A classic case of Jungian projection.

    1. That’s what all the cuts are for. The angry fat bully wants his airplanes because his family has been in the Canadian military since 1774. Also, he enjoyed history, so long as it was the first half of the 20th century. In that half of the century, Canada had a considerable military presence in the world and in the World Wars. In the second half of the 20th century, there have been a series of left leaning governments that, in his mind, have led our country down a soft road of complacence and fence sitting. 

      In a word, the angry fat bully wants to go knock some heads. What a moron.

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