The Commission on Environmental Co-operation was established in 1994 so that proponents of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) could say that trade liberalization would be accompanied by environmental protection. It was meant to mitigate public concern about the trade deal by creating a mechanism that could look into public complaints about violations of national laws intended to protect the land, water and air. It was created through the side accord known as the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation.
In November 2013, the Kwikwasutinuxw Haxwa'mis First Nation, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Pacific Coast Wild Salmon Society and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations brought forward a complaint that said the Harper government had violated Section 35 and 36 of the Fisheries Act by exposing wild salmon to parasites, disease, toxic chemicals and concentrated waste from fish farms.
The Canadian Press now reports, "Canada and Mexico voted against the investigation, while the United States wanted to pursue it. ...The vote, which was taken five months after it was supposed to have been, ends the joint complaint... The investigation only proceeds if a majority of member nations approve it. The commission has little or no enforcement power even if it does conclude a nation isn't living up to its environmental laws." At best a factual record would have been written on the situation.
The article also notes, "Canada is facing another vote on an investigation into its environmental practices. Environmental groups and individuals say Canada is breaking the Fisheries Act by allowing an unknown amount of tailings from the [tar sands] to seep into groundwater. The deadline for that vote was supposed to have been Oct. 27."
Between 1994 and 2012, 80 complaints have been filed with the commission. Eighty-five per cent of those submissions have been dismissed or terminated.
Meanwhile, the concerns of the Kwikwasutinuxw Haxwa'mis First Nation remain unresolved. And despite clear evidence of harm by fish farms to wild salmon, the Harper government is reviewing applications to expand the industry on the British Columbia coast.
Thank you for reading this story…
More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.
rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.
So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.
And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.