The federal government's use of an omnibus budget bill to enact measures affecting a variety of different areas has come under sustained attack (you can also listen to the comments of my colleague, Stéphane Beaulac, from the three-minute mark here).
Whatever one thinks about the substance of the underlying reforms, one can
certainly quibble about the process the federal government has followed.
Exposing the relevant provisions to the usual process of parliamentary scrutiny
would hardly hurt and may even help the overhaul the federal government
Beyond that, however,
the substance of the reforms should presumably be judged on the merits. Via
Norton Rose comes an even-handed
overview of the proposed changes to environmental regulation. There appears
to be much give-and-take in the proposed legislation: fewer decision-makers
will be obliged to conduct environmental assessments, but their decisions will
now be binding rather than recommendatory; fewer effects of proposed projects
are to be considered, but this seems designed to exclude consideration of
matters within provincial jurisdiction; strict time-lines for decisions are
imposed, but provision is made for public participation in the decision-making
process; and the burden of work on the federal authorities in the environmental
assessment process is reduced, but by permitting delegation to provincial
All in all, a good
primer on the substance of the proposed changes. But it probably should be read
in conjunction with the comments of those who fear the gutting
of environmental protection.