Fate of Canadian Rivers to Be Decided By Parliamentarians

Media release from Sierra Club Canada:

A last-minute meeting of the Finance and Transport Committees will take
place on Monday to reconsider a controversial aspect of the federal
Budget Implementation Act that would threaten the protection of
Canadian waterways.

“Environmental and outdoor recreation groups
oppose the inclusion of amendments to the Navigable Waters Protection
Act (NWPA) in the budget bill,” stated Celeste Côté, National Water
Campaigner for Sierra Club Canada. “These amendments will impact both
recreational access to and environmental protection of Canada’s
waterways. This is a serious matter, and should not be considered as
part of a politically sensitive budget vote.”

“The right of
navigation belongs to all Canadians and the federal government has
exclusive constitutional jurisdiction to protect this right. These
amendments are not budgetary in nature and should be considered
separately with more adequate stakeholder consultation,” explains Will
Amos, staff lawyer with Ecojustice Canada. “When I represent paddlers
and environmentalists before the Standing Committees, my goal will be
to convince Parliamentarians that these amendments are ill-conceived.”

proposed changes jeopardize access to waterways and reduce
environmental protection by granting discretion to the Transport
Minister to bypass the approval process for potentially harmful
projects. The legitimacy of the amendments has also been criticized due
to the inadequate consultation of affected stakeholders, such as
outdoor recreation, outfitter and ecotourism groups, First Nations,
angler and hunter groups, and environmental organizations.

NWPA and navigation rights are integral part of Canada’s environmental
protection regime. If you take away the protection of navigation
rights, you will impact the natural environment on Canadian waterways,”
said Mark Mattson, President and Waterkeeper of Lake Ontario
, which will present at Monday’s joint committee meeting.
“This is not a wise thing to do, even in tough economic times.”

Equipment Co-op
CEO David Labistour said, “More than one million MEC
members canoe and kayak on Canada’s waterways. We believe the proposed
amendments to the NWPA will significantly erode outdoor recreation in
this country, and the opportunities it provides for adventure and
inspiration. We join with others in calling for the removal of the NWPA
amendments from the Budget Implementation Act.”

The Canadian
Rivers Network
is a collaboration of many regional, provincial and
national organizations across Canada including Sierra Club Canada,
Ecojustice Canada, David Suzuki Foundation, Paddle Canada, members of
Waterkeepers Canada, Fondation Rivières, Outdoor Recreation Council of
British Columbia, Newfoundland Paddling Association, and the Ontario
Recreational Canoe and Kayak Association.

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