According to the binational Great Lakes Fisheries Commission, “The [Great Lakes] fishery is worth more than $7 billion annually to the people of the region, supports more than 75,000 jobs, sustains native fishers, and is the essence of the basin’s rich cultural heritage.”1 In Ontario alone, the commercial fishery contributes $350 million to Province’s GDP and Canadians spend $443 million per year on the recreational fishery in the Great Lakes.
The proposed Regulations would open the way for aquaculture operations to deposit prescribed drugs, pesticides and other deleterious substances into aquatic ecosystems, when some have had well-documented adverse environmental impacts on ecosystems, and a recent Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) report on the potential effects of anti-sea lice pesticides confirms the importance of a site-specific approach to substance deposit regulations. The problems associated with these operations necessitate consistent and strong national standards and monitoring, to ensure these operations meet the most vigorous environmental protection.
 Department of Fisheries and Oceans, “Potential Exposure and Associated Biological Effects from Aquaculture Anti-Sea Lice
Pesticides: Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat Science Advisory Report 1013/049” (October 2013) at 9, 11-12, 17, online:
“ORA respectfully offer our comments as prescribed in the Canada Gazette as listed above.
The proposed Regulations Establishing Conditions for Making Regulations under Subsection 36(5.2) of the Fisheries Act (Regulation) fundamentally alters the intent and enforceability of one of Canada’s most important federal laws. There has also been no meaningful, transparent and open process, or effort made to consult with the general public and stakeholders. As a result of the Government of Canada’s failure to consult with Canadians and those with expertise on this issue, both the Regulation and the supporting Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement are seriously flawed.
The sweeping changes to the Fisheries Act which were introduced in 2012 have weakened one of Canada’s most important and effective water and fisheries protection laws. This has provided opportunities for government to exempt industrial and resource development from federal rules.
The proposed Regulation lacks clarity and consistency, and amounts to an abdication of its federal responsibly for protecting fish, habitat and waterways in Canada. The contradictory regulatory scheme would make it impossible for any government regulator to fulfill the purpose of the Act, which is to “provide for the sustainability and ongoing productivity of commercial, recreational and Aboriginal fisheries”….. Continue reading
I woke up just past midnight with a bolt. My six-month-old son was crying. He has a cold – the second of his short life–and his blocked nose frightens him. I was about to get up when he started snoring again. I, on the other hand, was wide awake.
A single thought entered my head: Chief Theresa Spence is hungry. Actually it wasn’t a thought. It was a feeling. The feeling of hunger. Lying in my dark room, I pictured the chief of the Attawapiskat First Nation lying on a pile of blankets in her teepee across from Parliament Hill, entering day 14 of her hunger strike.
I had of course been following Chief Spence’s protest and her demand to meet with Prime Minister Stephen Harper to discuss the plight of her people and his demolition of treaty rights through omnibus legislation. I had worried about her. Supported her. Helped circulate the petitions. But now, before the distancing filters of light and reason had a chance to intervene, I felt her. The determination behind her hunger. The radicality of choosing this time of year, a time of so much stuffing – mouths, birds, stockings – to say: I am hungry. My people are hungry. So many people are hungry and homeless. Your new laws will only lead to more of this misery. Can we talk about it like human beings?
Lying there, I imagined another resolve too – Prime Minister Harper’s. Telling himself: I will not meet with her. I will not cave in to her. I will not be forced to do anything.
Mr. Harper may relent, scared of the political fallout from letting this great leader die. I dearly hope he does. I want Chief Spence to eat. But I won’t soon forget this clash between these two very different kinds of resolve, one so sealed off, closed in; the other cracked wide open, a conduit for the pain of the world.
But Chief Spence’s hunger is not just speaking to Mr. Harper. It is also speaking to all of us, telling us that the time for bitching and moaning is over. Now is the time to act, to stand strong and unbending for the people, places and principles that we love.
This message is a potent gift. So is the Idle No More movement – its name at once a firm commitment to the future, while at the same time a gentle self-criticism of the past. We did sit idly by, but no more.
The greatest blessing of all, however, is indigenous sovereignty itself. It is the huge stretches of this country that have never been ceded by war or treaty. It is the treaties signed and still recognized by our courts. If Canadians have a chance of stopping Mr. Harper’s planet-trashing plans, it will be because these legally binding rights – backed up by mass movements, court challenges, and direct action will stand in his way. All Canadians should offer our deepest thanks that our indigenous brothers and sisters have protected their land rights for all these generations, refusing to turn them into one-off payments, no matter how badly they were needed. These are the rights Mr. Harper is trying to extinguish now.
During this season of light and magic, something truly magical is spreading. There are round dances by the dollar stores. There are drums drowning out muzak in shopping malls. There are eagle feathers upstaging the fake Santas. The people whose land our founders stole and whose culture they tried to stamp out are rising up, hungry for justice. Canada’s roots are showing. And these roots will make us all stand stronger.
Author and activist Naomi Klein is the author of No Logo, The Shock Doctrine , and a forthcoming book on the politics of climate change.
Did the support of 24 per cent of the electorate on election day give the federal government a mandate for its radical project to gut environmental protection? Apparently. In our apathy-inducing first-past-the-post political system a small minority can translate into a big majority, which can disregard public opinion and do whatever it wants.
Here is a list of what the feds have accomplished so far in their three-pronged environmental strategy of deregulation, cutting information and research and targeting dissenting voices:
- Eliminated Canada’s international commitment to mitigate climate change, including the repeal of the 2007 Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act.
- Undermined global climate negotiations to avoid climate action.
- Failed to create a plan to address climate change.
- Eliminated energy conservation and efficiency and renewable energy funding while continuing subsidies to fossil fuels.
- Eliminated funding for the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences.
- Eliminated the climate adaptation research group within Environment Canada.
- Eliminated scientists in Natural Resources Canada to study ice core data.
- Cut hundreds of millions of dollars from Environment Canada.
- Repealed the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, weakening the federal environmental assessment process.
- Eliminated accepted criteria for compulsory environmental assessments, leaving such reviews to the discretion of the Minister of the Environment and political appointees.
- Eliminated the jobs of hundreds of scientists working for various government departments that focus on the environment and wildlife.
- Weakened elements of the Species at Risk Act.
- Amended the Species at Risk Act and Navigable Waters Protection Act to allow the National Energy Board to assume jurisdiction of endangered species or navigable waters in the way of any pipeline.
- Allowing the federal cabinet, rather than the National Energy Board, to make decisions about approvals for major pipeline projects.
- Introduced cuts to ozone monitoring.
- Ended monitoring of smoke stack emissions.
- Eliminated the Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission.
- Weakened the Fisheries Act in the areas of habitat protection and eliminated the marine contaminants program.
- Fired all DFO habitat officers in British Columbia.
- Killed the Navigable Waters Protection Act, replacing it with the Navigation Protection Act, which effectively makes major pipeline and interprovincial power line projects exempt from requirements for proponents to prove they wouldn’t damage navigable waterways.
- Reduced federal protection of waterways to a small number of water bodies and rivers.
- Parks Canada no longer has to conduct periodic environmental audits or management plan reviews.
- Eliminated funding for the National Round Table on the Economy and the Environment.
- Eliminated support for the Experimental Lakes Program.
- Eliminated funding for a dozen Arctic science research stations. Closed the Polar Arctic and Environmental Laboratory and the Yukon Research Lab.
- Started privatization and eliminated ecological staff positions in National Parks.
- Made a systemic effort to cut research, information and analysis with respect to environmental issues.
- Attacked environmental and First Nations organizations for critiquing resource development.
- Provided the Canada Revenue Agency with an extra $8 million to crack down on environmental charities.
- Provided oil companies with unprecedented access to senior government leaders.
- Muzzled government scientists who have been conducting research on various climate and environmental issues.
- Cut funding to the Network on Women’s Health and the Environment.
- Cut funding of the Canadian Environmental Network.
- In addition to changing the definition of “aboriginal fishery” in the Fisheries Act, without consulting First Nations governments introduced changes to the Indian Act designed to make it faster and easier for First Nations to “take advantage of economic opportunities” by leasing designated reserve lands based on a majority of votes from those in attendance at a meeting or in a referendum, instead of waiting for a majority vote from all eligible voters.
- Gave the aboriginal affairs minister the authority to call a band meeting or referendum for the purpose of considering a surrender of the band’s territory.
- The minister can accept or refuse the land designation after receiving a resolution from the band council.
- Eliminated the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration, the Indian Head Tree Nursery and the PFRA pasture management program on millions of acres of sensitive grasslands.
- Provided unprecedented support to industries to exploit natural resources with minimal environmental oversight.
ORA supports the grassroots Idle No More protest by First Nations and other Canadians against the federal government’s Omnibus Bills C-38 and C-45 and all affected legislation which have threatened our land and water and put First Nations’ treaty rights in grave danger. Our major environmental legislation has been gutted, including the critically important Navigable Waters Protection Act and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. Our fresh water and healthy river ecosystems are of vital importance for the future of all First Nations and Canadians.
“All people will be affected by the continued damage to the land and water and we welcome Indigenous and non-Indigenous allies to join in creating healthy sustainable communities.”
ORA stands in solidarity with First Nations. We are all treaty people.