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e-3695 (Environment)

E-petition
Initiated by Konstantine Malakos from Ste Justine de Newton, Quebec

Original language of petition: French

Petition to the Government of Canada

Whereas:
  • The Government of Canada has made a commitment to carbon neutrality;
  • Highly polluting industries often have the opposite impact;
  • The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has guidelines for the use of explosives in or near Canadian fishing waters;
  • There is a need to establish guidelines on all impacts (air, water, sound, shockwave) caused by the use of explosives near residential areas; and
  • The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the federal government has the right to overrule provincial decisions on climate change issues, and Canada recently adopted legislation to respect the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
We, the undersigned, residents of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to:
1. Stop construction of all new facilities used by highly polluting industries, such as cement plants, nuclear waste facilities, factories, and so on, until there has been in-depth consultation (accepting refusal, if that is the case) with the indigenous communities whose natural surroundings will be affected by the project;
2. Request that a comprehensive review be conducted by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans on the impacts on wildlife if the construction project affects interprovincial or international waters; and
3. Request that a review be conducted by a neutral third party and not by firms hired by the companies attempting to build the projects, and that the costs of these reviews be paid for by those companies.

Response by the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Mike Kelloway

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is committed to protecting our oceans, freshwater and aquatic ecosystems, and species from negative human impacts. This is achieved through sound science, and consultation and collaboration with Indigenous communities. DFO has many policies, processes, and guidelines in place to ensure that the potential impacts of large projects on aquatic species and habitats are scrutinised prior to allowing those projects to proceed.

The work of DFO to protect our aquatic ecosystems and species from anthropogenic impacts is supported by the implementation of the Fisheries Act and the Species at Risk Act (SARA). DFO works diligently to ensure compliance of proposed projects that will take place in or near water with relevant provisions under these laws. DFO ensures that proponents are provided with important expertise and guidance to incorporate into project design such that impacts of their project on the aquatic ecosystem can be minimised.

In 1998, DFO published the Guidelines for the Use of Explosives In or Near Canadian Fisheries Water. The purpose of these guidelines was to protect against the death of fish and the harmful alteration, disruption, or destruction of fish habitat caused by the detonation of explosives. However, given the advancement in scientific research and the development of new technologies since its publication, these guidelines are outdated and are no longer provided to proponents by DFO. Instead, DFO makes available to proponents advice on a number of avoidance and mitigation measures, and codes of practice, that can be followed to ensure that the impacts of works in and near water on fish and fish habitat are minimised. For projects that cannot avoid impacts on fish and fish habitat, DFO undertakes a rigorous regulatory review. Through this review, departmental staff identify the potential risks of the project to fish and fish habitat, and work with the proponent to ensure that impacts are managed in the most effective way possible. Specifically, DFO determines if the project may require a Fisheries Act authorisation and/or SARA permit, and determines the appropriateness of avoidance and mitigation measures to reduce impacts. If impacts cannot be fully avoided, DFO requires that the proponent develop an offsetting plan to put in place measures to counterbalance the unavoidable residual impacts to fish and fish habitat before an authorisation or permit is issued.

There are also other legal mechanisms in place to consider the potential impacts that large projects may have on the environment. Under the Impact Assessment Act (IAA), the Minister of Environment and Climate Change must consider any change that a project may cause to the environment, whether that change occurs within the province where the project is being carried out, in a province other than the one where the project is being carried out, or outside of Canada. Additionally, as the Government of Canada may be reviewing a proposed project, provincial and territorial laws and processes continue to apply. As such, DFO works with other jurisdictions, as well as with Indigenous governing bodies, over the course of the review of a project, whether that be a regulatory review under the Fisheries Act or SARA, or as part of a review under the IAA.

When making a decision regarding a proposed project, the Crown has an obligation to consider any adverse effects that the decision may have on the rights of the Indigenous Peoples of Canada, recognised and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. The Crown has statutory, contractual, and common law obligations to consult with Indigenous groups and, if appropriate, accommodate those groups when it contemplates conduct that might adversely impact established or potential section 35 rights. Such conduct would include the issuance of an authorisation under the Fisheries Act or a permit under SARA for the purposes of enabling a project, and/or making a decision under the IAA. Additionally, the Fisheries Act and the IAA set out that when making a decision under either Act, the responsible Minister must consider, among other things, Indigenous knowledge that has been provided to them in relation to that decision.

Response by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable STEVEN GUILBEAULT

The  Impact Assessment Act (the IAA) is the federal law that provides for review of the environmental, health, social and economic impacts of major projects in Canada, including mines, dams, and transmission projects, before they are implemented.  

Indigenous Peoples are stewards of this land, and their knowledge and partnership is critical to fostering sustainability through impact assessments. The IAA includes requirements to consult and assess potential environmental effects that a designated project may have on Indigenous Peoples, as well as any adverse impacts on the rights of Indigenous Peoples. Elements of the impact assessment process, such as early and regular engagement and the mandatory consideration of Indigenous knowledge, support the Government of Canada’s aim to secure free, prior and informed consent throughout the impact assessment process for all decisions that affect Indigenous Peoples’ rights and interests.

Open for signature
December 2, 2021, at 11:33 a.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
March 2, 2022, at 11:33 a.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Alexandre Boulerice (Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie)
May 17, 2022 (Petition No. 441-00481)
Government response tabled
September 20, 2022
Photo - Alexandre Boulerice
Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie
New Democratic Party Caucus
Quebec
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