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25 Feb, 2009

Canada’s Budget Implementation: Bill C-10

Posted by: Skylar In: news

Everyone’s heard about the conservative’s own “stimulus package”.  Heck, I’m pretty excited about it myself.  Being a person working primarily in municipal engineering, I’d say it’s good news for my future job security.  But there have been some people raising a fuss about this new budget bill.  And believe it or not, most of them aren’t complaining about the budget itself.  The main complaint I have read has to do with the additional law amendments contained within the bill.  From the Toronto Star:

At the same time, he is quietly introducing measures to weaken environmental laws affecting rivers and lakes, limit federal oversight of most foreign investment and scale back some of Canada’s few remaining restrictions on foreign ownership.

Now, I’m not an economist or a lawyer so I don’t have too much to say on the foreign ownership requirements and the other amendments.  However, I think it’s important for me to raise the issue of changes to environmental law.  The environmental law that this article is referring to is the Navigable Waters Protection Act.  The act is meant to protect Canada’s waterways and the access Canadians have to those waterways.

The government claims that the intention of this amendment is to remove some of the “red tape” in project proposals, ensuring that the federal spending provides a speedier stimulus.  Essentially, the amendments are meant to reduce the amount of Environmental Assessment work required for projects.  And yes, parliament has said that they are trying to remove the requirement only for certain types of works.  The real question is whether this has been properly implemented with the proposed bill or not.

I have not read the bill, nor am I an expert on anything related to navigable waterways.  As such I humbly back away from the argument.  I do not have a specific opinion, but I thought it would be good to bring attention to the issue.  I understand that red tape due to environmental assessments can (sometimes unnecessarily) hold up a project proposal.  However, this does not make the assessments useless.

At best, it raises red flags for me seeing environmental law amendments included in a budget implementation.  If you’d like more information, you can try these:

Anyone out there have extra details or opinions?  Feel free to leave a comment here.

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