Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak today about the bill by the member for Cumberland—Colchester, Bill C-230, an act respecting the development of a national strategy to redress environmental racism.
Bill C-230 proposes to develop a national strategy to address the harm caused by environmental racism, in consultation with provincial and municipal governments and indigenous and other affected communities, persons and bodies. Given the important objectives of the bill, the government supports sending the bill to committee for further study. This would enable a broad discussion to take place on the environmental risks faced by marginalized communities and historically disadvantaged groups, and examine options to develop a strategy that is both practical and appropriate for the federal government. The activities proposed by the bill could help identify and fill knowledge gaps, providing different levels of government with the information needed to work toward addressing issues raised by the bill.
This would build upon the government's commitment to evidence-based decision-making that takes into consideration the impact of policies on all Canadians. The bill is timely and commendable. However, there are three sets of issues that the government is looking forward to discussing and studying at committee, and which the government would seek amendments to address.
First, a national strategy could serve to promote environmental justice, which is a concept that is already recognized in the bill, as a goal to strive to achieve through a coordinated national strategy. Environmental justice seeks to avoid disproportionate impacts of environmental harm on certain communities, for example, minorities, and includes other grounds of discrimination in addition to race, such as low-income communities and remote communities. Potential amendments would seek to further incorporate principles of environmental justice into the bill.
Second, there are some measures proposed in the bill that are more appropriately taken by provinces. We recognize that jurisdiction over the protection of the environment is shared among different levels of government in Canada and we would seek amendments to address the impacts on provincial jurisdiction.
Third, while the bill contains some important mandatory requirements, a flexible framework for developing a national strategy would be required. Amendments would aim to avoid pre-empting or prejudging the issues and findings of environmental racism that may be identified in the process of developing a national strategy. As I said, the bill deserves our attention and represents the beginning of a conversation that can build upon and complement efforts that our government is undertaking to strengthen environmental protections and to combat systemic racism. As a result, we look forward to careful study at committee and discussions on possible ways to reinforce the bill and its purpose.
Finally, once again I would thank the member for Cumberland—Colchester for bringing this bill forward, for her advocacy and her environmental passion, which are very important in this particular case. I hope that all members will join the government in supporting sending this legislation to committee for further study.