Canada doesn't have a constitutional right to a healthy environment?

Image by Amarpreet K | flickr.com

Image by Amarpreet K | flickr.com

In 2015, voting Canadians will exercise their democratic right to elect members to the House of Commons in the 42nd Canadian general election. A federal election is tentatively scheduled for October 19th, 2015. However, the governor general has the power to call the election at any time and voting could happen as early as March. One of the factors that should influence your ballot this year is the constitutional right for the protection of the natural world.

While listening to the Habitat podcast by Erica Butler, I heard from Canadian journalist Silver Donald Cameron on his latest documentary production, GreenRights: an in-depth investigation into the lack of legal environmental protection in Canada compared to that of other countries around the world. Similarly, David Suzuki’s Blue Dot Tour in 2014 set out to inform Canadians on the opportunity to incorporate the right to live in a healthy environment into our legal system. 

Fact: Canada (among only 16 other countries) does not hold constitutional rights for a healthy environment. Instead, Canadian policies attempt to make up for this by creating numerous laws for specific components of nature; such as the Fisheries Act and the Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act. However, this approach is cumbersome; administratively demanding; and most importantly, leaves many legal loopholes. Mr. Cameron noted that environmental pollution that affects environments without specific protection is technically not illegal in Canada and may continue without penalty. Meanwhile, 177 other countries in the world do have comprehensive environmental protection policies, and are finding this advantageous when fighting extensive environmental pollution against large corporations, for example.

I encourage you to resolve to vote strategically in 2015: for the environment, for your health, and for sustainability. Check out leadnow.ca to see how your vote can help move Canada forward!

"What’s more important than the right to breathe fresh air, drink clean water and eat healthy food?" - Daviz Suzuki, BlueDot Tour, 2014

This article was originally posted via Sustainable Collective, which has since joined forces with The Starfish Canada.