Navigable waters and the environment

Of the changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act that are included in the latest budget implementation act, the Conservatives have argued that the act is “not an environmental law” and insisted that the NWPA is about “navigation and navigation only.” On that note, Megan Leslie deferred yesterday to Transport Canada’s FAQ on the act.

Megan Leslie: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities’s own web page contradicts his talking points. The Navigable Waters Protection Act FAQ alone mentions the environment 23 times, and the website says of the act: “These stiff new penalties reflect the government’s ongoing concern toward maintaining the safety of public navigation and the environment.” That is right, according to the department, the Navigable Waters Protection Act is about protecting the environment. Why is the minister so confused about his portfolio?

Denis Lebel: Mr. Speaker, changing the words “navigable waters” to “navigation” does not change the essence of this act. That is about navigation, and that is what we will continue to do. The member asks frequent questions about the environment, and the Minister of the Environment will continue to answer her. We will continue to answer her about navigation.

The FAQ in question is here.




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Navigable waters and the environment

  1. Well, that link to the FAQ now leads to a 404 error. Let the scrubbing begin! (I also tried clicking through via TC’s website menu…the FAQ page is gone).

    • That is simply astonishing…are these guys already that brazen?

        • I always wondered if there was a real person behind those initials :)

  2. Perhaps Mr. Wherry should approach this issue with the same vigour he did the Carbon Tax/Cap and trade issue. How about post the Navigable Waters Protection Act and illustrate all of the references in the act that are all about protecting the environment and not protecting the interests of marine navigation.

    • The navigable waters act does deal with navigation. Specifically, it’s supposed to make sure that new construction and wrecks don’t create a hazard to navigation, and it gives the minister powers to deal with constructions and wrecks that do impede navigation. It’s curious, though, that the new wording for the act specifically excludes pipelines as “works”. Does pipeline construction not impact navigation? How is it different from bridge construction (for lines that span river valleys) or laying cable (for pipelines buried beneath the bed)? That is a strange and specific exclusion. Presumably, pipeline builders aren’t interested in constructing pipelines in such a way that mariners and recreational boaters could be endangered, or could damage the pipe. So why did they include the pipeline exclusion at all?

      • “Proposals for big pipelines and interprovincial power line projects
        will no longer have to prove they won’t damage or destroy navigable
        waterways in Canada, under changes introduced by the government
        Thursday.
        These big projects are exempt under the new navigation protection act proposed in the government’s second omnibus budget bill.”

        This from the opening to my link to a CBC story below. It seems to imply that exclusion was an explicit goal of the new legislation. One more hurdle out of the way of reource business. It’s all about removing the burden of proof, as in the changes to the enviro regs. Now someone else will have to prove they might do harm.

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