Advocating for modernized environmental laws

Although Canada has a reputation as a generally progressive and green nation, many of the statutes we count on to defend nature, combat climate change and fight for a healthy environment have not kept pace with the times and are ill-equipped to deal with modern threats, like climate change.

That’s why when the Liberals swept into power in 2015 promising to restore public trust in environmental decision-making, engage in nation-to-nation relations with Indigenous communities, and take action on climate change by reviewing Canada’s key environmental laws, we jumped at the opportunity to take part in the process.

Over the course of two years, we worked with a coalition of partners and met with lawmakers on Parliament Hill, urging them to ‘get it right’ and enact strong laws that will protect Canadians and the environment.

All this work reached its peak in February 2018 when the federal government tabled two environmental reform bills. Bill C-69 would replace the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act with a new Impact Assessment Act and the National Energy Board Act with a new Canadian Energy Regulator Act. It would also amend the Navigation Protection Act. Bill C-68 proposes amendments to the Fisheries Act.

Right now, both bills are making their way through the lawmaking process. This includes committee appearances, clause-by-clause reviews, and Senate review before going to a vote on whether to make these bills law.

Why is Ecojustice involved?

In 2012, the then-federal government significantly weakened Canada’s environmental legal framework. These amendments removed environmental safeguards in the Fisheries Act that virtually eliminated fish habitat protection — the most important factor responsible for the decline and loss of fish including our commercial fish stocks. They also gutted the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, exempting thousands of projects from review. The National Energy Board Act was amended to narrow the scope of project reviews, restrict public participation, and strip the regulator of its decision-making power. They also made significant changes to what was then known as the Navigable Waters Protection Act by drastically reducing the protections given to navigable waters in Canada and eliminating environmental assessment requirements.

When the current federal government took steps to review our environmental laws, we knew this was a once in a generation opportunity to not only repeal the 2012 rollbacks but to deliver the modernized set of environmental laws needed to protect nature, our health and our communities.

What would a win mean?

We’ll consider our efforts to strengthen Canada’s environmental laws a successful when we have laws that restore lost protections and we’ve regained public trust in regulatory bodies and reviews. We need strong, enforceable, and well-implemented environmental laws that will better protect Canadians and the environment for generations to come.

Case Categories
Case Status
In Progress

Advocating for modernized environmental laws

Victory

Fighting for species protection in Ontario

In Progress

Ensuring Volkswagen pays for its environmental crime

In Progress

We’re protecting the Gulf of St. Lawrence from oil drilling

In Progress

Protecting wild salmon from piscine reovirus

Closed

Standing up for Indigenous rights and the environment

Victory

Challenging TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline

Victory

Fighting for thorough environmental assessments for oil-by-rail projects

In Progress

Protecting pollinators from neonicotinoids

Victory

Fighting to advance an honest conversation about climate change

Victory

Protecting Lancaster Sound

In Progress

Seeking justice for contaminated Thane Smelter site

Victory

Ensuring effective oversight of aquaculture vets

Victory

Protecting the Great Lakes

In Progress

Species at Risk Act Implementation

In Progress

Waterproof: Monitoring Canada’s Drinking Water

In Progress

Right to a Healthy Environment

Victory

Reducing Manitobans’ exposure to toxic pesticides

Victory

Protecting Canada’s national parks from commercial encroachment

In Progress

Protecting the Sage-Grouse

Closed

Demanding strong nuclear safety assessments

Closed

Defending the rights of Chemical Valley residents – Charter Challenge

Closed

Defending Ontario’s at-risk species

In Progress

Putting the brakes on the expansion of coal exports from Canadian ports

In Progress

Challenging Kinder Morgan’s pipeline expansion

Victory

Challenging Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline

In Progress

Defending Fish Lake from the Prosperity Mine

Victory

Fighting for Government Oversight of Fish Farms

Closed

Challenging flawed environmental reviews for new nuclear reactors in Ontario

In Progress

Protecting drinking water in Harrietsfield, Nova Scotia

Closed

Protecting Canada’s Arctic from oil spills

In Progress

Bees and Neonicotinoid Pesticides – Notice of Objection

Victory

Fighting discrimination based on environmental sensitivities

Victory

Defending species at risk from the Northern Gateway pipeline

Victory

Fighting for emergency protections for the greater sage-grouse

Closed

Challenging the safety of genetically modified salmon

Victory

Protecting migratory birds from collisions with office buildings

In Progress

Protecting Canadians from harmful pesticides banned in other countries

Victory

Challenging Cadillac Fairview to reduce bird-building collisions

Victory

Protecting habitat for British Columbia’s killer whales

Victory

Nooksack dace lawsuit win protects habitat critical to endangered species

Victory

Nestle bows to pressure to limit Ontario water withdrawals

Victory

Improving access to justice in public interest cases

In Progress

Modernizing B.C.’s Water Act

Victory

Ontario’s Water Opportunities and Conservation Act

Victory

Ensuring that polluters pay after ducks die at tailing ponds

Victory

Exposing the toxic legacy of Canada’s mining and tar sands projects

Victory

Doyle Island salmon farm

Victory

Lilydale chicken processing plant

Victory

Ending narrow environmental assessment of large industrial projects

Victory

Protecting B.C.’s Fraser Valley from Sumas 2 power plant

Victory

Saving Burnaby Lake’s turtles

Victory

Ottawa natural gardens

Victory

Challenging the federal government to protect sage-grouse habitat

Victory

Landmark Supreme Court victory for uOttawa-Ecojustice Clinic

Victory

Victory trashes Lafarge’s tire burning plan

Victory

Piping Plover Lawsuit

Victory

Challenging the Kearl tar sands project in Alberta

Victory

Ontario Parks Act

Victory

Holding Imperial Oil to account, establishing polluter-pays

Victory

Federal Species at Risk Act introduced

Victory

Upholding municipalities’ right to restrict use of pesticides

Victory

Stopping logging in endangered spotted owl habitat

Victory

City of Hamilton responsible for pollution clean-up

Victory

Defending Friends of Lubicon’s right to free speech

Victory

Helping to defeat attack on government regulation

Victory

Protecting Ontario’s old growth forests

Victory

Upholding the Canadian Environmental Protection Act

Victory

Helping James Bay Cree protect Great Whale River

Victory

Defending Galiano Island residents’ right to speak out against logging

Victory

Forcing environmental assessments for all major projects

Victory

Court win halts logging in Wood Buffalo National Park