Longstanding federal partnership with Canadian Environmental Network terminated

Fri 14 Oct 2011 – RCEN

Future uncertain for network of over 640 environmental groups

Today, the Canadian Environmental Network (RCEN), one of Canada’s oldest, largest, and most well-respected democratic institutions serving the environmental concerns of all Canadians, was forced to lay off its staff and is on the verge of closing its doors and those of its 11 regional offices.
The Network demands to know why it is being shut out of communications with Environment Canada regarding the promised funding for fiscal year 2011-2012. Neither Environment Minister Peter Kent nor his departmental officials have explained why they are not delivering on their promise of continued core funding for the Network, which comprises its key environmental constituency across Canada.

“The Canadian Environmental Network received a letter from Environment Canada in May this year stating their intent to continue core funding in the amount of $547,000 for the current fiscal year. In keeping with our over three-decades-long partnership, we ask that EC honour this letter,” said Olivier Kolmel, Chair of the RCEN.

“The RCEN consists of over 640 highly diverse large and small, rural and urban organisations from coast to coast to coast. The Network forms an invaluable and irreplaceable grid of communication among environmentally concerned Canadians and the Government of Canada. A huge part of our understanding of environmental issues, and traditional indigenous, community, and scientific knowledge and experience has reached Canadians’ kitchen tables largely due to the existence of the Canadian Environmental Network,” said Larry McDermott, Aboriginal Representative and Director of the RCEN, and Executive Director of Plenty Canada.

“For the past nearly 34 years, the RCEN has functioned as the formalised mechanism through which Canadians contribute to policy, legislation, and environmental management in this country. Without the RCEN, this important community-based knowledge coming from every part of Canada will be lost. The fate of our environment will be jeopardised by cutting this important voice for Canadians,” said Maggie Paquet, RCEN Board member representing British Columbia.

“The RCEN is the epitome of what democracy in this country has always strived to achieve. The Network allows small and large organisations alike the opportunity to stand side-by-side and be part of the Government of Canada’s decision-making. The loss of the Network would be a tragic loss for democracy and for all Canadians,” said Stephen Hazell, former Executive Director of the Sierra Club of Canada and of the Canadian Parks & Wilderness Society.

The Canadian Environmental Network is urging every Canadian to speak up for democracy and the rights of Canadians to have an effective means of communicating and understanding environmental issues and sharing the knowledge and expertise. We urge Environment Canada to renew its partnership with the Canadian Environmental Network and save this critically important Canadian institution.
The collaborative and democratic partnership model that EC and the RCEN have created is the envy of countries worldwide. The RCEN is considered widely as the best environmental network in the world. It is essential that this remarkable network be acknowledge and supported for the health and wellbeing of our country and all Canadians.



• Olivier Kolmel, RCEN Chair, Canadian Environmental Network Board of Directors, phone: 514-833-0973, email: chair@rcen.ca

• Larry McDermott, Director and Aboriginal Representative, Canadian Environmental Network, phone: 613-485-0755 or 613-278-2215, email: larry@plentycanada.com.

• Maggie Paquet, RCEN Board of Directors, Member-at-large representing BC, phone: 250-723-8802, email: maggie_paquet@telus.net

• Sheila Cole, RCEN Health, Toxics, and Biodiversity caucuses, Advisor to the Nova Scotia Environmental Network Board (Halifax), phone: (weekend) 902-483-2787 or 902-444-4291, email:sheilacole108@yahoo.ca

• Stephen Hazell, Ecovision Law, Former Executive Director of Sierra Club of Canada and Canadian Parks & Wilderness Society, phone 613-724-1908, email: stephendhazell@gmail.com

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