An insight into environmental laws in Canada
Concern for the environment has been increasing around the world since the early 1980s. In the year 1987, the Brundtland report heightened awareness of the need for significant legislative and other changes. People in Canada are gradually becoming more aware of the urgent need to protect the environment. Canadians are involved with many projects to protect fragile ecosystems and stop further environmental destruction. Some projects are individual efforts and some are carried out through Non- Governmental Organizations (NGOs) such as World Wildlife Federation and Greenpeace. Other projects are initiated by the Government of Canada. Enforcement of Canadian environmental law can involve three stages: voluntary abatement; mandatory rectification; and, as a last resort, prosecution and penalties. The federal agencies and most provincial ministries have designated abatement and enforcement personnel. Written enforcement policies set out criteria with respect to how and when each of the three enforcement stages is to be applied. Federal enforcement policies include the compliance and enforcement policy for the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 and the compliance and enforcement policy for the Habitat Protection and Pollution Prevention Provisions of the Fisheries Act. Many, but not all, provincial regulators have similar policies, which can be obtained by searching their websites or requesting a copy in writing. This paper has been prepared to present an overview of environmental laws in Canada. In this manuscript, an effort has been made to: (a) discuss Canadian environmental legislation at various levels such as federal, provincial and municipal levels; and (b) give an insight into the trends in Canadian environmental law, and emergency response and government investigations.
Key words: Federal, provincial, municipal environmental law, Canada