Speaking notes for the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change - Press Conference - Government of Canada Moves to Restore Trust in Environmental Assessment


January 27, 2016 – Ottawa, Ontario

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Thank you for joining us today.

I am pleased to be here with Minister Carr to make an announcement on the immediate steps to strengthen environmental assessments.

To have the Ministers of Environment and Climate Change and of Natural Resources work in tandem on this sends an important message that a clean environment and a strong economy go hand in hand.

We know that natural resource projects play a vital role in our economy – and that they create jobs for Canadians and grow our economy.

We also know that, in 2016, projects will only get done if they are done sustainably and responsibly.

We believe it is important and essential to rebuild Canadians trust in our environmental assessment processes.

We need to take into account the views and concerns of Canadians, respect the rights and interests of Indigenous Peoples, and support our natural resources sector.

That is the only way to get resources to market responsibly in the 21st century. Today is the first step towards this goal.

The principles we are announcing today will allow the government to make better evidence based decisions on major projects.

These principles will apply to projects currently undergoing a federal environmental assessment until legislated changes can be implemented.

The principles are clear. They were part of our platform last fall. Canadians gave us a clear mandate to implement them. Today we are delivering on that mandate.

First, no project review will return to square one.

Decisions will be based on science and evidence, including information on climate change and traditional knowledge from Indigenous Peoples.

Decisions will be informed by consultation with, and input from, Canadians, including Indigenous Peoples and affected communities.

I spoke about building a system that restores the trust of Canadians.

I believe that we will do that by listening to Canadians, consulting them, and building new processes that reflect what’s important to them.

Consultation is – and will continue to be – a driving force of our government and how we approach environmental assessments.

As the Prime Minister has said, there is no relationship more important to our government than the one with Indigenous Peoples.

It is time for a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership.

The principles underscore our commitment to work in partnership with Indigenous Peoples and to ensure that their rights and interests are respected.

Greenhouse gas emissions must also be taken into account in decision-making.

As you know, addressing climate change is a priority for the Government of Canada.

Gathering evidence and facts on greenhouse gas emissions from a variety of sources, including environmental assessments, will further help inform our national climate change plan.

I want to highlight the crucial role the private sector has to play in fighting climate change.

Business people are a source of dynamic innovation and they recognize the tremendous opportunities of using greener and cleaner technologies and practices as major projects are designed, built and operated.

Clean growth is an opportunity for Canada.

I firmly believe that together we are building the future of our economy and of our prosperity for the benefit of all Canadians and generations to come.

Thank you.

Statement: Government of Canada Moves to Restore Trust in Environmental Assessment

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