August 14, 2013 - 7:42 PM
VANCOUVER - A group championing environmental law reform in British Columbia and Canada accuses the federal government of breaking an international pledge to protect North America's air, land and water.
The West Coast Environmental Law Association says recent slashes to federal environmental laws mean this country risks becoming a "pollution haven."
Lawyers for the association say last year's omnibus budget bills appear to skirt environmental safeguards contained in a side deal signed 20-years ago as the North American Free Trade Agreement took effect.
Staff counsel Andrew Gage says a letter has been sent to the Commission for Environmental Co-operation laying out the association's concerns and he urges Canadians to send similar letters.
Gage says the side deal was meant to ensure NAFTA did not offer incentives to gut environmental laws at the request of industry, but he points to federal revisions that repeal Canada's laws to reduce greenhouse gases, eliminate thousands of environmental assessments and weaken legal protection of fish, lakes and rivers.
To mark NAFTA's 20th anniversary, the commission is conducting a public review of the agreement and its environmental side deal in hopes of determining how environmental protection is faring across North America.
News from © The Canadian Press , 2013