Canada Violates the North American Free-Trade Agreement
An open letter addresses Canadian environmental law violations
By Ocean-Leigh Peters, Staff Writer
The Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) was asked in a public letter on Wednesday to examine Canada’s supposed weakening of environmental laws which violates promises made under the North American Free-Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
The letter, written by the West Coast Environmental Law Association to the CEC’s public advisory panel, states that there should be financial ramifications for a country that violates NAFTA by giving its industries an advantage through weakening environmental laws and putting the environment at risk.
According to the West Coast Environmental Law association, Canadian industries are to blame for the country’s slacking environmental laws. The letter specifically blames the gas and oil industries for pressuring the country to make changes to its environmental laws in order to provide companies and industries in Canada with a competitive edge over the United States and Mexico.
Although NAFTA does state that a country has the power to alter its laws concerning the environment, it has to be within the best interest of environmental protection. The recent changes made by Canada are not in accordance with this agreement.
Included in the West Coast Environmental Law association’s letter are complaints that the changes made to the Fisheries Act and the Navigable Waters Protection Act are harmful to the environment. Under the new changes, fish, along with tens of thousands of lakes and streams, which have been protected since 1889, are no longer properly cared for and protected. In addition, with the repealing of the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act Canada no longer has any legislation addressing the reduction of greenhouse gases.
To add insult to injury, the amendments to the environmental laws were brought in secretly through a multi-item bill, without any public consultation.
As part of their 20 year celebration as a non-profit organization, the CEC is reviewing the effectiveness of NAFTA’s environmental side agreement. The advisory panel to the CEC is currently accepting written comments from the public.
Ocean-Leigh is an aspiring journalist and a resent UNBSJ graduate who will be attending UKC in Halifax to study journalism in the fall. She’s passionate about writing and got her start writing a sports column for her university paper. You can follow her on Twitter @ocean_leigh
West Coast Environmental Law