FOR Makes Submission to the NAFTA Commission on Environmental Cooperation

The Friends of the Oldman River

Media Release

September 7, 2004

Today the Friends of the Oldman River (FOR) are making another Article 14 Submission to the Commission on Environmental Cooperation (CEC) which was established as part of the North American Agreement on Free Trade (NAFTA).

FOR's submission alleges that the Government of Canada is failing to enforce and comply with the Fisheries Act and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) by issuing letters of advice. DFO uses letters of advice to tell proponents what they can do to avoid or mitigate damage to fish habitat. The Fisheries Act makes no provision for issuing letters of advice. And the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is not doing environmental assessments as required by CEAA before issuing the letters of advice.

The CEC did prepare a Factual Record on FOR?s October 1997 submission. Unfortunately the scope of that Factual Record was limited to Sunpine's Mainline Road and therefore missed addressing the main focus of FOR's submission.

Martha Kostuch, Vice-President of FOR, said, "Let's hope they get it right this time. It is our understanding that the main purpose of Article 14 submissions is to address the general failure of governments to enforce their environmental laws."

Between April 1, 2001 and March 31, 2002, DFO provided 6922 letters of advice across Canada.

"Because DFO did not do environmental assessments for those 6922 projects, there was no opportunity for the public to have input and it is unlikely that all of the environmental effects of the projects were considered or that the cumulative effects of the projects in combination with other projects and activities were considered," said Cliff Wallis, President of FOR.

"Fish habitat in Canada is being damaged and DFO's failure to comply with and enforce the laws is contributing to that damage," said Martha Kostuch.

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For more information contact Martha Kostuch: 403-845-4667