Ottawa plans overhaul of assessment process for resource projects – by Shawn McCarthy (Globe and Mail – April 6, 2017)

TORONTO — The Liberal government is planning to overhaul its environmental-assessment regime for major development projects to give more decision-making power to Indigenous Canadians, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said.

At an event in Montreal Wednesday, the minister released a report from an federally appointed expert panel that was headed by former federal environment commissioner Johanne Gélinas, now a partner with Quebec accounting firm Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton.

The panel said public confidence in the resource-project-approval process can only be restored through reforms that emphasize “sustainability” and public engagement, including with Indigenous people. “We believe that public trust can lead to more efficient and timely reviews,” said the report, which the minister released on Wednesday.

“It may also support getting resources to market.” In an interview, Ms. McKenna said the government will consult with industry, environmental groups and Indigenous communities on the proposed reforms before drafting legislation that will be introduced early in 2018.

“What are we trying to do? We’re trying to ensure good projects get built,” the minister said. But she said Ottawa is determined to give Indigenous Canadians a greater role in decision making.

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