Federal Government Turns Over Pollution
Policy to Polluters
New pollution advisory committee to be dominated by Canada's
polluters, public interest marginalized
Published July 18, 2005
TORONTO, July 18 /CNW/ - Environmental groups from across
Canada released a statement today outlining grave concerns
about plans by Environment Canada to set up a special
"Chemicals Sector Sustainability Table" to consult
on pollution issues.
Co-chairs of the Chemicals Table will be the Deputy Minister
Canada and the VP of the Chemicals Division of Imperial
Environment Canada to bystander status.
"This move shows that the federal government is determined
to kowtow to industry at the expense of the public interest,"
said Dr. Rick Smith,
Executive Director, Environmental Defence. "The creation
of this new table is particularly obscene given that Canada
ranks as one of the worst countries in the industrialized
world for many kinds of pollution. The problems and solutions
are well known. Canadians need to see action from the
federal government to immediately address this crisis,
not more talk and delay."
The 21 environmental groups that signed the statement
Chemicals Sector Table process is flawed and are declining
to participate in this invalid process.
A copy of the full statement follows this news release.
Joint Statement on Environmental Group Participation in
Environment Canada's "Chemicals Table"
Environment Canada is seeking to establish a "Chemicals
Sustainability Table" to advise on pollution issues
and is seeking the
involvement of environmental organizations in this exercise.
The undersigned respected environmental organizations,
representing tens of thousands of Canadians, believe the
"Chemicals Table" process is invalid. We decline
to participate in the "Chemicals Table", and
urge others to do the same, for the following reasons:
1. Canada is now ranked as one of the worst countries
industrialized world for a variety of important pollution
indicators by the Organization for Economic Cooperation
and Development. This terrible situation has been created
by industry intransigence and government timidity. The
and solutions are well known. The federal government already
has access to many of the regulatory tools that are necessary
to prevent pollution. As was recently pointed out by the
Commissioner of the Environment, what seems to be lacking
simple will: the federal will to make pollution a priority,
to lead and to act. Yet another exercise in talking about
the problems -- which the "Chemicals Table"
appears to be --
will not be useful. What is required is the immediate
implementation of strong regulations, an objective that
"Chemicals Table" is not designed to further.
2. Critical elements of the "Chemicals Table"
design, such as
chairing and membership, have apparently been finalized
spite of the best advice from environmental organizations.
Through the Canadian Environmental Network, the environmental
community collectively laid out a series of criteria that
to be met before it would be willing to participate in
"Sectoral Tables" process. The federal government
met these criteria. Environmentalists are not now going
to acquiesce to a flawed process that they warned against
just a few months ago.
3. The co-chairing of the "Chemicals Table"
by the chemical industry
and the federal government is completely unacceptable.
environmental organizations will apparently be a small
of the table's members, the structure seems certain to
marginalize environmental concerns. Given the industry
of the table, the conclusions of the "Chemicals Table"
including on such critical issues as Parliament's review
the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) -- would
preordained and likely at odds with those of the environmental
community, the House of Commons Standing Committee on
Environment, and the Canadian public.
4. The Canadian Chemical Producers Association, which
a key role in the "Chemicals Table" design,
and which will
serve as co-chair, has shown little interest in real pollution
prevention in Canada. In the past year alone, the CCPA
actively opposed Ontario's Bill 133 (an important new
statute), castigated the NAFTA Commission on Environmental
Cooperation for linking child health and pollution emissions,
and continued to hold up its Responsible Care programme
a model of progressive environmental stewardship. A recent
report by Environmental Defence found that, to the contrary,
Responsible Care has done little to increase the transparency
of a chronically secretive, highly polluting, industrial
5. The "Chemicals Table" has clearly been
designed to further
the federal government's broader so-called "Smart
agenda, a transparent attempt to weaken federal health
safety, and environmental regulation at the behest of
On the eve of Parliament's review of Canada's most important
pollution law, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act
we believe the "Chemicals Table" process will
further progress on pollution prevention in Canada as
to grappling honestly with the critical issues at hand.
Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment
Canadian Environmental Law Association
Centre for International Studies, Cape Breton University
Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario
Conservation Council of New Brunswick
Ecology Action Centre
Georgia Strait Alliance
Great Lakes United
New Brunswick Partners in Agriculture
Northwest BC Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides
Reach for Unbleached!
Sierra Club of Canada
Sierra Legal Defence Fund
Toronto Environmental Alliance
Under the Sleeping Buffalo Research
West Coast Environmental Law Association
July 18, 2005
For further information: or to arrange interviews, please
Jennifer Foulds, Environmental Defence, (416) 323-9521
(647) 280-9521 (cell)