Liberals unveil overhaul of environmental legislation – by Gloria Galloway and Shawn McCathy (Globe and Mail – February 8, 2018)

The federal government is proposing to overhaul the way environmental assessments are conducted in Canada, aiming to reduce red tape, provide greater transparency and allow greater input from the public and Indigenous populations.

At the same time, Ottawa says it will replace the National Energy Board with a Calgary-based oversight body designed to respond to emerging energy developments that will make faster decisions guided by science and Indigenous knowledge. Liberal cabinet ministers held news conferences in cities across the country on Thursday to roll out the long-promised environmental legislation.

“The legislation we are introducing today aims to restore public trust in how the federal government makes decisions about major projects like mines, pipelines, and hydro dams,” Environment Minister Catherine McKenna told a news conference in Ottawa. “These better rules are designed to protect our environment while improving investor confidence, strengthening our economy and creating good middle-class jobs.”

The new legislation, Ms. McKenna said, will make Canada’s energy and resource sectors more competitive. The $500-billion in major resource projects that are planned for Canada over the next decade will mean tens of thousands of jobs, she said.

The proposed environmental legislation will in many ways rewrite regulations that were loosened or eliminated under the previous Conservative government. Under then-prime minister Stephen Harper, the Tories repealed the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act in 2012 and replaced it with a regime that resulted in the cancellation of thousands of environmental reviews.

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