Government of Canada

 

BRIEF ON THE REVIEW OF ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT PROCESSES

Submitted By: Jean-Sébastien Clément December 22, 2016

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

BRIEF OF THE GRAND COUNCIL OF THE CREES (EEYOU ISTCHEE) / CREE NATION GOVERNMENT TO THE EXPERT PANEL ON
THE REVIEW OF ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT PROCESSES

DECEMBER 22, 2016

CONTEXT

1. The James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement (JBNQA) establishes several co-management regimes with more responsibilities with respect to co-management, which help ensure that development in Eeyou Istchee is sustainable and respectful of Cree rights.

2. There is a need to modernize social and environmental assessment of projects in Eeyou Istchee and to ensure that the protection of ecosystem is put at the forefront of the decision-making process. The following reforms are required:

a) change the triggers of federal assessment and to restore robust oversight and thorough environmental assessments of areas under federal jurisdiction;

b) ensure that the JBNQA bodies carry out the assessments in Eeyou Istchee, with the participation of the required federal bodies;

c) ensure that the JBNQA process benefits from the modern tools available for other processes in order to make it more transparent;

d) ensure that the Crees benefit socially and economically from the projects being developed in Eeyou Istchee.

SOLUTIONS

3. The GCC(EI)/CNG favours:

a) the enactment of suitable legislation regarding fisheries, which would restore adequate protection of all fish and fish habitat and which would provide for Cree involvement in efficient and modern decision-making processes compatible with the principles of sustainable development and conservation;

b) the enactment of suitable legislation regarding navigable waters which would protect all navigable waters that meet the “canoe test” and which would provide for Cree involvement in efficient and modern decision-making processes thereunder compatible with sustainable development and conservation;

c) amendments to Section 22 of the JBNQA in order to ensure that projects are properly assessed through JBNQA structures under a modernized regime using the treaty bodies rather than foreign entities, while ensuring that the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change Canada, Transport Canada, the National Energy Board and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission all contribute to the process, through the JBNQA structures;

d) amendments to the JBNQA in order to ensure the transparency of the social and environmental assessment process;

e) reinstate the requirement of an assessment when an authorization is required under the Fisheries Act and when a navigable water permit is required for, at the very least, projects located in the JBNQA territory, within the context of a modernized Section 22 of the JBNQA; and

f) add, as triggers for such assessments :

(i) projects included in the CEAA 2012 Regulations Designating Physical Activities (SOR/2012-146) or amendments thereto:
(ii) projects that could alter or harm species at-risk under the Species at Risk Act or migratory birds under the Migratory Birds Convention Act, or their habitats; and
(iii) other projects requiring federal approvals such as those contemplated by the former Law List Regulation; and
(iv) projects jointly determined to be subject to assessment.


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