Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s decision to gut environmental regulations shows that the Conservative government has has "declared war on the environment", according to Joyce Murray, Member of Parliament for Vancouver Quadra and Liberal Critic for Small Business and Tourism.
“The Conservatives are taking Canada a generation backward in terms of ensuring environmental sustainability while creating jobs economic growth. This decision fails Canadians today and in the future,” said Murray in a press release.
Murray also criticised the government's cuts to funding for responding to oil spills and other environmental emergencies and for centralising the remaining staff in an office in Eastern Canada.
“That means that front-line response to oil spill emergencies on our coast will be coordinated by a small handful of staff from the other side of the country, at the very time government is over-riding the pipeline environmental review process. Delays in emergency spill response and deployment could have devastating environmental consequences," Murray said.
Liberal Environment critic Kirsty Duncan said that “under the guise of ‘streamlining,’ the federal government is attempting to excise itself from the environmental review process, leaving provinces to fend for themselves."
Liberal Energy and Natural Resources critic David McGuinty, meanwhile, expressed concern that the new changes to environmental regulations seems to be more about "fast-tracking" government revenues than making regulatory reform.
“The downloading of environmental assessments to provinces, the imposition of arbitrary timelines, the censoring of independent voices in the hearings process – these all amount to an incoherent plan buried in a budget bill so as not to see the light of day," he said.
"I am calling on the government to introduce separate legislation to deal with these issues and immediately refer that legislation to a House of Commons Legislative Committee.
Vesting the decision making power for natural resources projects in a single Minister or Cabinet is a dangerous power grab which can only compromise an objective and evidence-based approach to the exploitation of our natural resources.”