COMMISSION FOR ENVIRONMENTAL COOPERATION
THREE COUNTRIES WORKING TOGETHER TO PROTECT OUR SHARED ENVIRONMENT
Summary of the matter addressed in the submission:
The Submitters allege that the Government of Canada "is in breach of its commitments under NAAEC to effectively enforce its environmental laws and to provide high levels of environmental protection." They allege that the Fisheries Act is "routinely and systematically violated by logging activities undertaken by British Columbia. [s]pecifically, section 35 of the Fisheries Act, which prohibits the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat, and section 36 of the Fisheries Act, which prohibits the deposition of deleterious substances in waters frequented by fish." The submitters claim that the Government of Canada has the responsibility to protect fish and fish habitat under the Canadian Constitution Act of 1867. They allege that "[t]he federal government is failing to enforce the Fisheries Act against logging on private land in British Columbia, even though private lands are not subject to any effective provincial logging regulation." In addition, the Submitters claim that "[they] have been denied the right to bring private prosecutions against violators of the Fisheries Act, even though the Fisheries Act encourages citizen enforcement, and submit that this denial is in violation of Canada's obligation under Article 7 of NAAEC to comply with due process of law and ensure that judicial proceedings are open to the public."
Summary of the response provided by the Party:
The Canadian government responded that it had found only three documented assertions in the submission of alleged failures to effectively enforce the Fisheries Act. The allegations refer to TimberWest's logging operations on privately managed forest lands at three sites in the Sooke watershed of British Columbia: 1) Sooke River; 2) Martins Gulch; and 3) De Mamiel Creek. (Canada assumes that the reference in the submission to "TimberWest" is a reference to TimberWest Cowichan Woodlands.) Canada's response to the three documented assertions is as follows: Sooke River: Canada describes enforcement action taken starting March 1999 and that Fisheries and Oceans Canada had observed that no blowdown (wind-caused tree loss) had occurred during the 1999/2000 winter season, and that there has been no harmful impact on fish habitat at the site. Martins Gulch: Canada asserts that Fisheries and Oceans Canada staff reinspected the site and confirmed that it does not appear that fish habitat had been damaged and that the site is considered a low risk for future impacts. The Response concludes that no further site inspection is required. De Mamiel Creek: Canada states that the logging that took place at Otter Point Road is being investigated as a potential offense under the Fisheries Act. Canada says it can not comment due to the ongoing investigation and that it would therefore also be inappropriate for the CEC Secretariat to proceed further with the Otter Point Road matter.
Names and citations of the environmental laws in question:
Submitter(s):David Suzuki Foundation Greenpeace Canada Sierra Club of British Columbia Northwest Ecosystem Alliance National Resources Defense Council Represented by: Sierra Legal Defence Fund, Earthjustice Legal Defence Fund