At Ecojustice, our work is rooted in environmental law. Simply put, we believe that strong environmental laws can protect the air, water and land that our health depends on. That’s why we go to court to seek legal precedents that enforce and strengthen existing laws and why we speak up when they are broken.
Unfortunately, Canada’s environmental laws are weak and getting weaker. Just two years ago, sweeping changes buried in the 2012 omnibus budget bill weakened major federal laws like the Fisheries Act and Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. Meanwhile, there is no national law to protect our drinking water and air quality — just a patchwork of provincial laws. That is far from what is needed to protect the health of Canadians.
And yet, we are very optimistic. Because we’ve seen the future.
After more a decade of academic research, case development and strategic litigation, Ecojustice is partnering with our friends at the David Suzuki Foundation to introduce Canadians across the country to the next frontier of environmental protection: A constitutional right to a healthy environment.
David Suzuki’s Blue Dot Tour will be the first time that many Canadians hear about how adding environmental rights to the Constitution could change the face of environmental protection in our country. They’ll learn that, unlike the majority of the global community, Canada does not recognize the right to a healthy environment. And they’ll see for themselves how the environmental rights revolution – taking place right now, all around the world – offers a promising vision for our future.
We know many Ecojustice supporters will be attending and we’re looking forward to seeing the momentum David’s tour will generate. But for those of you who can’t attend in person, here’s a breakdown of what you need to know:
Why go after a constitutional amendment?
The Canadian Constitution, which includes the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, is our country’s highest and most powerful law. All laws must conform to it.
The Charter gives each and every Canadian inalienable rights. It ensures freedom of expression and protects us from discrimination. It also guarantees each of us the right to life, liberty and security of person. But it is completely silent about our right to a healthy environment.
More than 110 countries around the world have already recognized their citizens’ right to a healthy environment by enshrining it in their national constitutions. Now it’s time for Canada to do the same.
How will Canadians benefit?
By enshrining the right to a healthy environment in Canada’s Constitution, we can align our highest law with our deeply-held values.
In more concrete terms, the right to a healthy environment could be a powerful catalyst in improving the quality of our laws, our environment and our health. Most importantly, it could force our governments to recognize that every Canadian, no matter who they are or where they live, has the equal right to drink clean water, breathe fresh air and eat healthy food.
What can I do?
Get informed and stay in touch. Make sure you’re signed up to get updates and resources about how, together, we can take the right to a healthy environment from an abstract idea to a reality.
You can also visit bluedot.ca to learn about how communities near you are taking action and join the movement.
This is just the beginning of what will be a long and — at times — difficult process. But we’re committed to seeing this through.
We hope you’ll join us.