And John Geddes looks at how the Navigable Waters Protection Act relates to the environment.
Here’s perhaps the key point Saxe walked me through: four provisions in the Navigable Waters Protection Act automatically required an environmental assessment under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. Among them is the key federal power to approve building on navigable waters—structures like bridges, booms, dams and causeways. So approving or rejecting any of these sorts of projects required an environmental assessment under the CEAA regulations.
Or, at least, such assessments were required under the old CEAA. The Tories replaced that law earlier this year with a much-revised statute, which will mean fewer federal assessments in a more limited range of circumstances. But under the previous CEAA— passed in 1992 and in force until its repeal last summer—theNavigable Waters Protection Act was named in regulations as a law that triggered assessments. (You can search here for those regulations.) To claim then, as Fletcher did, that the act was only about navigation and never the environment, is, in Saxe’s words, “just wrong.”