Fight for Canada's rivers heats up as budget bill returns to House of Commons

    TORONTO, Feb. 26 /CNW/ - Public opposition to environmental rollbacks
buried in the Budget Implementation Act is growing across the country. The Act
contains sweeping changes to Canada's oldest water law, the Navigable Waters
Protection Act. The changes allow the Cabinet and the Minister of
Transportation to undermine navigation rights on rivers without Parliamentary
oversight or public warning.
    "In all my years as an environmental lawyer, I have never seen anything
like this," says Mark Mattson. "Across the country, paddlers, outdoors people,
and First Nations are standing up to say any threat to our right to navigate
public waters must be dealt with properly, in the light of day."
    On Monday, public interest organizations representing vital industries
like recreation and tourism, and environmentalists appeared before the Finance
Committee during an extended evening session. They expressed concerns about
the rollbacks, including the elimination of science-based decision-making.
    The Budget Implementation Act will return to the House of Commons for
more debate, and the NWPA amendments are expected to be controversial.
    "We can't let our federal government dismantle environmental regulations
in a closed-door process that excludes public consultation, and ignores the
interests of our communities and the environment," says Meredith Brown, Ottawa
Riverkeeper. "Amendments to NWPA need to be removed from the Budget
Implementation Act, so the issue can be brought before the public for 
meaningful consultation, scientific review and debate."


For further information:

For further information: Mark Mattson: (416) 861-1237; Meredith Brown:
(613) 321-1120

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