By Valerie Hunnius
Most Canadians agree that strong environmental laws are important because they protect the quality of the air, water and land that our health depends upon. But did you know that a report released in 2013 by Washington’s Centre for Global Development ranked Canada’s environmental protection record dead last among 27 wealthy countries? According to an Eco-Justice Report, more than 110 countries have already recognized their citizens’ right to a healthy environment by enshrining it in their national constitution. It’s time that Canada does the same.
With this in mind, Dr David Suzuki led a national tour during the last year to promote his Blue Dot Movement. The ultimate objective will be the inclusion of protection of a healthy environment in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom. Ingeniously, the strategy will be a grass roots movement, starting at the municipal level with requests to all our municipalities to adopt a declaration to protect the Right to a Healthy Environment. Environment Haliburton has taken on responsibility as the local lead organization, and they will be distributing a petition to gather as many signatures as possible this summer in Haliburton County to support this request to our municipalities, planned for the fall.
It is hoped that municipal declarations will protect the right to breath clean air; the right to drink clean water, the right to consume safe food, the right to access nature, the right to know about pollutants and contaminants released into the local environment, and the right to participate in decision-making that will affect the environment . It is also expected that the precautionary principle will be the guiding principle for all decisions. Also, municipalities will be asked to call on the provincial government to review and improve the Ontario Environmental Bill of Rights and to send a letter to the Federal Government requesting legislation that recognizes that all people have a right to live in a healthy environment.
It is expected that the groundswell of public opinion supporting this issue, with the majority of municipalities, large and small, on side, standing together with the provinces will be able to accomplish the goal of a Charter Right for Protection of a Healthy Environment within five years.
Please watch for a petition promoting this initiative at various events this summer and lend your support. Watch for the blue dot!
Find out more at www.BlueDot.ca