Manitoba government rushing through environmental changes during pandemic
With the province largely shut down, Pallister government uses emergency session to weaken regulations
WINNIPEG – Under cover of the COVID-19 pandemic Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister’s government is ramming through harmful legislation with no opportunity for public discussion or explanation of the impacts on the province’s forests and parks.
While convening an emergency legislative session to pass COVID-19 response measures, the government is also moving forward with all bills that were introduced as the world was shutting down on March 19. That’s more than 600 pages of legislation across 25 new bills.
“Manitobans are trying to keep it together during the pandemic, with fears and uncertainties and unimaginable life changes upending their routines,” said Wilderness and Water Campaigner Eric Reder. “For Pallister and his cronies to rush through major changes to laws concerning Manitoba’s nature and ecosystems with no chance for public scrutiny is nothing short of cruel.”
Today, the government announced plans to push through Bill 30, The Fisheries Amendment, Forest Amendment and Provincial Parks Amendment Act, which enables privatization of forests and provincial parks. The explanatory note attached to the bill mentions changes to allow the issuing of permits online, but it doesn’t explain the broad privatization of licencing for parks or forests.
“How is privatizing control of forests and protected areas a pandemic response?” asked Reder. “Do we want corporations to have control over clearcut logging in Duck Mountain Provincial Park? Or operating campgrounds? We must not privatize forest licencing or provincial parks, period.”
Additional problematic bills being rushed through today include: Bill 36 that privatizes water control structures, Bill 35 that lets big polluters off the hook for greenhouse gas emissions and Bill 34 extends the mineral tax credit so we not only keep bulldozing intact forests and destroying lakes in provincial parks but subsidize corporations to do it.
This morning the Official Opposition blocked Bill 44, which includes sweeping changes to the Public Utilities Board and oversight of Manitoba Hydro and Efficiency Manitoba.
“With scientific reports coming out weekly on the magnitude of the climate and biodiversity crises, we need to ensure nature and climate are at the forefront of increasing regulations to protect our life support systems,” said Reder.
For more information please contact:
Eric Reder | Wilderness and Water Campaigner