Commons could soon pass legislation investigating environmental racism – Low Calorie Diets Tips

The House of Commons is about to pass Canada’s first-ever bill against environmental racism – environmental threats that disproportionately affect Indigenous, black and other racialized communities.

Bill C-226 is up for a vote today and is expected to pass the House of Commons with the support of the Liberals, the NDP and the Green Party.

These parties hope that unanimous approval will speed up the bill and circumvent several procedural obstacles. This is not possible without the support of the other two opposition parties.

C-226 would require Parliament to develop a national strategy to gather information on environmental hazards in BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and Colored people). communities and address their impact. This information could form a basis for amending existing federal laws, policies and programs.

Supporters of the bill hope the remaining parties will support him if he comes back for another vote.

“I’m really hopeful that we as a government are finally addressing the issue of environmental racism and injustice,” said one of the bill’s backers, Nova Scotia-based activist Lynn Jones.

Jones, a leader in Africa’s Nova Scotian community, said she felt the effects herself growing up on the shores of Cobequid Bay. She said her community and other black settlements in the province had been isolated on the outskirts of Truro, NS, where governments often built landfills and ignored flooding for years.

“When you live on the edge, you often had the worst conditions. You often didn’t have all the amenities that other people in town had,” she said.

First Nations and Métis communities have complained for years that they have to deal with environmental threats such as the release of pulp mill effluent into the harbor near Pictou Landing First Nation in Nova Scotia or mercury pollution in Grassy Narrows First Nation in Ontario.

Fishing boats pass by the Northern Pulp Mill as concerned local residents, fishermen and Indigenous groups protest the mill’s plan to dump millions of liters of sewage a day into the Northumberland Strait in Pictou, NS, July 6, 2018. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

Many of these communities have expressed concerns about the health impacts of environmental degradation, such as asthma, cancer, and birth disabilities.

in the her book Regarding environmental racism, Ingrid Waldron, a professor in the humanities department at McMaster University, has urged policymakers to view environmental racism as a form of “state-sanctioned racist” violence akin to police brutality.

“There’s a kind of racist ideology written into environmental policies, which is where we tend to be [exclude] People who we believe don’t have the greatest worth in this world,” Waldron told CBC News.

McMaster University humanities professor Ingrid Waldron, author of There’s Something in the Water, co-produced the film of the same name. Her research into environmental racism inspired the creation of Bill C-226. (Steve Lawrence/CBC)

Elizabeth May, the Green MP supporting the bill, said there was no “grey area” between racist communities’ experience of violence in encounters with police and the adverse effects of environmental racism.

Conservatives oppose the law, arguing it could further complicate permitting resource projects — like Alberta’s oil sands mining — which typically operate near Indigenous communities.

“We already have a complicated regulatory environment when we are developing projects in this country,” conservative environmental critic Kyle Seeback said in April during one of the House debates on the bill.

The Bloc Québécois, meanwhile, has declined to support it, fearing that the bill could violate Quebec’s sovereignty, given that the environment in general is a provincial and territorial sphere of responsibility.

“We believe that it would be contradictory to fight for environmental justice at the federal level and at the same time not stand up for the defense of Quebec’s environmental sovereignty,” said the bloc’s environmental critic Monique Pauzé during the same debate in April.

CLOCK | How mercury poisoning affected Grassy Narrows First Nation:

How mercury poisoning affected Grassy Narrows First Nation

“I grew up not knowing that the land and water were already poisoned,” said Randy Fobister, Grassy Narrows First Nation Chief.

This is the second attempt to get environmental racism legislation through the House of Commons. Former Nova Scotia MP Lenore Zann attempted to pass a similar law in her provincial legislature when she was provincial representative. The same bill died in the last parliament before Zann lost her seat in the 2021 federal election.

Zann said she and her allies might have gotten the bill through if it hadn’t included the word “racism.”

“White people always want you to take out the word racism,” Zann said. “It’s like it makes her nervous, isn’t it?

“They don’t want to admit it exists… And I think, no, that’s the whole point of this bill.”

CLOCK | Behind the push to tackle environmental racism:

Growing pressure to address and prosecute environmental racism in Canada

Disproportionate exposure to environmental hazards has long had a greater impact on Indigenous, Black, and other racialized communities in Canada. A private members bill calls for a national strategy to address and prosecute cases of environmental racism.

For more stories about Black Canadians’ experiences—from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community—see Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.


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