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Letter: Regulators’ conflict of interest can’t continue

Stephen Harper’s and now Justin Trudeau’s bureaucrats have gutted our environmental protections.

It is ridiculous to even consider that regulatory bodies appointed within one province, such as the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board and the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board, should have responsibility for environmental assessments which must reflect the potential impact on provinces beyond their own jurisdiction.

Moreover, the conflict of interest this recent decision results in is the definition of “regulatory capture.” No agency can be both promoter and regulator.

Trudeau promised to undo the Harper-era negative changes to our protectionary laws and restore vital federal powers to the Environment Act and Fisheries Act to protect Canada’s coastline, the longest in the world, and especially, the Gulf of St Lawrence. He is failing badly. As it stands now, there is no oversight, public interest is being abused and it is not protecting the environment.

It is ridiculous to even consider that regulatory bodies appointed within one province, such as the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board and the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board, should have responsibility for environmental assessments which must reflect the potential impact on provinces beyond their own jurisdiction.

After the BP oil spill, the U.S. government finally recognized this inherent conflict and separated these functions from each other and created two agencies instead of one. Newfoundland’s Wells Report also recommended a separate agency for environmental and safety be set up after the Cougar Helicopter crash and the deaths of 17 workers. But nothing has been done. I recommend that we at least restore the powers of protection to Canada’s Environment Act and Fisheries Act.

We need to force them to do the right thing and protect our planet for future generations. There is a reason Harper was crushed in the last election in disgrace, and why the environment movement is now the largest “movement” in the world, and one that politicians need to understand that they ignore at their political peril.

 

Bill Bryden

Lumsden

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