MP Randall Garrison: Rivers, Lakes, and Streams Need Robust Federal Environmental Protection

OTTAWA – On March 19, I voted for the Liberal’s environmental protection bill, but I remain concerned that the bill does not go far enough and, among other things, will leave the waterways in Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke without the federal protections that they lost under the previous Conservative Government.

My New Democrat colleagues and I voted in favour of the Liberal’s Bill C-69, despite our misgivings about it, because we thought that it could be improved at the committee stage before coming back to the House of Commons for another vote. It now appears that the Liberals will not allow a fulsome review of the bill at the committee stage, and I am more worried than ever that our waterways will be left inadequately protected by the Liberals.

The Liberal Government is refusing to deliver a comprehensive study of this legislation. By cutting off debate in the House of Commons and limiting time for the committee to review C-69, Canadians and Parliamentarians are being denied the opportunity to provide feedback and advocate for improvements to this vital piece of legislation.

Meanwhile, development and other pressures continue to encroach on the waterways in Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke, which have all been without federal environmental protection since the previous Conservative Government removed 99 percent of waterways from the Navigable Waters Protection Act in 2012. The Liberals have delayed their promise to restore protections to waterways, at the peril of the rivers, lakes, and streams in my riding. Community members have sounded the alarm about environmental impacts on the Colquitz river, and in other areas communities are concerned that all of their hard work to protect and enhance rivers and streams is not backed-up by federal environmental protection.

In response to the Liberal’s foot-dragging, I introduced legislation in 2017 that would have protected all of the major waterways in my riding. The environmental stewards, community members, sports fishers, and volunteers working tirelessly to protect and restore our waterways deserve federal law that supports the work they are doing and protects the rivers, lakes, and streams that are part of the fabric of our coastal way of life.

I will continue to advocate for comprehensive federal environmental protections for rivers, lakes, and streams in my riding.