Environment Minister Catherine McKenna joins fellow ministers during an announcement in the foyer of the House of Commons on Monday, June 20, 2016. (Photo: Sean Kilpatrick/CP)The target appears to be a series of significant reforms that were pushed through by Stephen Harper's majority government in back-to-back omnibus bills in 2012. "Consultation and engagement will be at the core of this review," said Environment Minister Catherine McKenna. In fact, Canadians are being asked to weigh in on the draft mandate of two new expert panels that are, pending public review, to be given the job of assessing the National Energy Board and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act — essentially a pre-consultation about the consultation. The Liberals have also asked two parliamentary committees to study changes to the Fisheries Act and the Navigation Protection Act. However, the House of Commons adjourned last Friday for the summer and won't be back until Sept. 19, meaning those committee studies won't get underway for at least three months.
'Solution in search of a problem'
"I vigorously opposed the idea of a drawn-out consultation without first repealing the devastating changes made to environmental assessment in omnibus budget bills of 2012."
— Green Party Leader Elizabeth May
'The most significant environmental law reform initiative in at least a generation'That absence of trust was evident in British Columbia, where the City of Vancouver launched the latest court challenge to the National Energy Board's conditional approval of the $6.8-billion Trans Mountain pipeline. Stephen Hazell, general counsel for Nature Canada, called the government's proposed review "the most significant environmental law reform initiative in at least a generation" and said widespread public engagement is the only way to restore lost trust. And while the Liberals weren't putting timelines on the legislative overhaul, beyond a Jan. 31, 2017 deadline for the expert panel reports, Hazell figures its going to take years. "I think it's realistic to think they could get legislation through Parliament by the end of their (four-year) mandate," he said. "That's a realistic objective."
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