The Globe and Mail's headline on yesterday evening's story was "Ottawa wants to streamline environmental reviews". After some discussion about eliminating inefficiencies and duplication, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver summed things up for us:
We respect the integrity of the regulatory process but we do need to get these projects approved.
Which does make it sound as though the approval is to be a foregone conclusion and the assessment process is just so much theatre. And we all know how this government feels about theatre. Note this as well:
While Ottawa hopes to work with the provinces to eliminate duplication, Mr. Oliver said it won't wait, but will act alone to streamline the process.
Of course it's possible that I'm over-reacting and the Conservatives do intend to leave something approaching a rigorous regulatory and assessment process in place. But consider this bit of streamlining:
Environmental groups across Canada are expressing shock over the abrupt termination of the Parliamentary review of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA). Committee hearings scheduled for today were cancelled late last week without warning, and even written submissions are no longer being accepted.
"The House of Commons Environment and Sustainable Development Committee has apparently been told to abandon half-way the job that it is legally required to do," said MiningWatch Canada's Jamie Kneen, co-chair of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Caucus of the Canadian Environmental Network.
While the actual words are mine rather than his, Kneen goes on to suggest that "gut like a fish" may be exactly what they intend to do to the environmental assessment process.
Recent experience would suggest that when this government abruptly ends consultation and vows to go full speed ahead with its own agenda no matter what anyone else thinks, bad things happen.
Do you think we should change Peter Kent's title?