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Leaked memo shows feds plan to weaken environmental laws, says NDP

The Conservative government has plans to weaken federal environmental laws, according to NDP environment critic Linda Duncan.

Duncan said today she obtained a leaked memo that suggests the federal government intends to present a draft bill exempting projects that cost less than $10 million from environmental assessments.

The NDP press release states that:

The new rules would exempt from environmental assessment: any Building Canada infrastructure projects under $10 million regardless of the environmental or health risk; any project on federal lands or using federal dollars; and, any project that a provincial government asks to be exempted.

Vancouver-Hastings MLA Shane Simpson said his sense is that the federal government wants to expediate the billions of dollars worth of 'shovel ready' infrastructure projects put forth by Canadian municipalities.

"Part of their rationale is saying they need to expediate these and move quickly," said Simpson. "Infrastructure work needs to happen, but it would be a very large mistake to compromise environmental integrity."

Simpson also said that British Columbia's environmental assessment process is too weak to stand on its own.

"It doesn't look at cumulative has little public review. The reality of the environmental assessment process in B.C. is that is has never said no to a project."

Jennifer Lash, executive director of Living Oceans Society said she's concerned such changes would make it easier for the aquaculture sector to expand and build new fish farms.

"We're worried that in losing that process we're going from a not so great process to a lack of any oversight at all."

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