Last August, the Trudeau-led federal government in Canada kicked off a wide-ranging review of the federal environmental assessment process for resource projects by appointing a four-person panel to carry out and deliver a final report to federal Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna.
The idea behind the panel was the new government’s contention that the previous Conservative government’s move under its Canadian Environmental Assessment Act of 2012 to streamline environmental permitting by eliminating the apparent duplication of effort by provincial and federal regulators had gone too far, and it was time to “restore public trust and confidence” in the country’s environmental and regulatory processes.
The panel — named the “Expert Panel for the Review of Environmental Assessment Processes” and comprised of chair Johanne Gélinas and members Doug Horswill, Rod Northey and Renée Pelletier — delivered its report entitled “Building common ground: A new vision for impact assessment in Canada” in April, and a period for commenting closed in May.
Minister McKenna is still considering the report and may make her official comment in June, though any more substantive moves to change legislation won’t be signalled until later in the year.
The report’s sweeping recommendations, if implemented by the federal government, could severely inhibit resource projects from being developed in Canada, and force Canada’s resources industry to seek out projects in more welcoming jurisdictions around the globe.
In effect, the environment would be protected because no one would want to build a new mine or energy project in Canada.
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