Opposition MPs demand separate environment bill

Policy changes contained in omnibus budget bill draw fire

Opposition MPs are angry with the government for proposing major environmental policy changes in the budget implementation bill introduced yesterday and are demanding the proposals be hived off into a separate bill.

Bill C-38, which is more than 400 pages, proposes changes to numerous pieces of legislation, suggests repealing some laws and has other measures to implement what was promised in last month’s budget.

A large portion of the bill is dedicated to overhauling how environmental assessments are conducted, changes that were announced by Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver last week; it also aims to repeal the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act.

The Conservatives will be able to use their majority in the House of Commons and the Senate to pass the bill.

NDP finance critic Peggy Nash accused the government in question period of launching a “full frontal assault on environmental protection” in the budget bill. She said the proposed changes will shut citizens out of pipeline project reviews, give the minister sweeping powers to approve projects and exempt many projects from review.

“Why is the minister hiding such significant changes in a 400-page budget bill? Is it because he knows that Canadians oppose this reckless attack on our environmental protection?” Nash said. Read more …