Mr. Speaker, today the Minister of the Environment tabled the long awaited changes to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. As usual, what the government says about protecting the environment is very different from what it does.
CEPA used to be the supreme environmental law in this country, in that it could override other acts and other departments. The new act will now only apply if the substance of concern is not covered by any other act, and the minister can only intervene if a province fails to do so. This effectively downgrades CEPA from being the most important pillar and centrepiece of environmental law into a law of last resort when nothing else applies. This legislation will take us backwards, not forwards. It effectively forces Environment Canada out of the environmental protection business and allows the harmonization agreement with the provinces to take precedence over CEPA.
The environment committee last year called for the act to be strengthened and revamped, not weakened in the manner proposed by the Minister of the Environment.