January 2019 Bulletin

Photo: Oak Ridges Moraine by Rick Harris/Flickr

News & activities

CELA opposes Ontario’s proposed Planning Act changes

The Ontario government has recently introduced Bill 66, which proposes to repeal or amend a number of provincial laws. Schedule 10 of Bill 66, for example, empowers municipalities to pass “open-for-business planning by-laws” under the Planning Act in order to attract new major development for job-creation purposes. Alarmingly, however, Schedule 10 proposes that development projects authorized under these by-laws would be automatically exempt from key provincial laws, policies, and plans, such as the Clean Water Act, Greenbelt Act, and Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act. CELA and other environmental groups wrote detailed submissions opposing Schedule 10 on the grounds that it is unnecessary, risk-laden, and contrary to the public interest. In light of concerns raised by MPPs, municipalities, and stakeholders, the Ontario government has decided to remove Schedule 10 from Bill 66 when the Legislature resumes sitting in February.

Opposing the repeal of the Toxics Reduction Act

CELA made a submission to the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) about the Toxic Reductions Act, 2009. The MECP believes the Act duplicates requirements under federal law on control of toxic substances. We disagree. We recommended that the MECP not repeal the Act or revoke any regulations or planning and reporting requirements of the Act, among others.

Responding to the proposed Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan

CELA provided a detailed submission with several recommendations to the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) regarding the proposed “Preserving and Protecting our Environment for Future Generations: A Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan. We found the plan to be wholly inadequate. Our recommendations included revising the plan to include essential components of accountable environmental planning, more robust and greater prescriptive information to prevent future governmental initiatives at odds with the plan, and more details about the proposed provincial actions.

CELA granted intervener status on Ontario’s carbon pricing reference

CELA, Environmental Defence (ED), and Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul were granted status as interveners in Ontario’s legal challenge to the federal Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act. The interveners will ask the Court to uphold the carbon pricing law under the criminal law power or Part 2 of the law under the trade and commerce power. The interveners take the position that both the federal and provincial governments have authority to pass carbon pricing legislation and other climate change measures.


Photo: Cormorant image by special permission of the photographer

Reviewing Ontario’s proposal for cormorant hunting season

CELA responded to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’s (MNRF) consultation on Ontario’s proposal to establish a hunting season for the double-crested cormorant. We raised several concerns: the proposal is contrary to theFish and Wildlife Conservation Act, it would exacerbate human-wildlife conflict, and it would violate Canada’sMigratory Birds Convention Act. We requested that the MNRF discontinue all action to advance the proposal.

Improving Ontario’s French-Severn Forestry Plan

CELA made a submission to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’s (MNRF) draft Forest Management Plan for the French-Severn Forest that is located within Ontario’s Great Lakes and St. Lawrence region. We recommended that Ontario adopt an herbicide-free approach to forest management, in light of the independence of scientific data on glyphosate being questioned since the Johnson v Monsanto Company litigation in the U.S., in addition to other jurisdictions, like Quebec, having adopted herbicide-free forest management practices.

Indigenous Water Protection: Chippewa, Munsee, Oneida and the Thames River

New collection on source water protection in Indigenous communities

new collection of resources featuring a range legal tools and policies to protect source waters in Indigenous communities is now available on CELA’s site. With funding from the Law Foundation of Ontario, CELA collaborated with the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation, the Oneida Nation of the Thames, and the Munsee-Delaware Nation to create legal and policy tools to address concerns from community members. The communities’ historical use and enjoyment of the Thames River has been diminished because of threats from industrial discharges and spills, sewage overflows, and the impact of phosphorus loading and pesticide use. In response to threats to source water identified and prioritized by these communities, an Indigenous Source Water Protection Toolkit was created.

On the CELA blog


Photo: Stillwater (No Men, No Soda) (in Kodachrome 64) by accozzaglia dot ca/Flickr

Ontario’s drinking water rules are not red tape

A fierce debate was recently unleashed in Ontario when the provincial government introduced Bill 66 to reduce “red tape.” But Ontarians must ask: what, exactly, is the red tape being addressed by Bill 66? Would you be supportive if the red tape being removed is intended to protect something you care about? CELA’s Theresa McClenaghan and Richard Lindgren explore this issue.

Moving forward on asbestos in Canada

As the clock struck midnight on January 1, 2019, new regulations came into effect in Canada prohibiting the import, use, sale, manufacture, and export of asbestos and products containing asbestos. These updated federal regulations mark an important step forward after years of attempts to ban asbestos. CELA’s Sarah Nixon explains.

Improving Canada’s e-waste management

In 2018, the Basel Action Network released a report entitled “Export of e-Waste from Canada. A Story as Told by GPS trackers.” It outlined how some electronic waste leaves Canada and ends up in developing nations where it puts human health and the environment at risk. In this blog, Olga Speranskaya from IPEN and Health and Environmental Justice Support International and CELA researcher and paralegal Fe de Leon discuss what can be done to improve Canada’s e-waste record.

Triclosan reduction targets continue to disappoint

CELA researcher and paralegal Fe de Leon joined Ottawa Riverkeeper’s Patrick Nadeau in this blog post to explain the trouble with the federal government’s proposed 30 per cent reduction of triclosan. The substance is used in hundreds of products, including toothpaste and mouthwash, but a growing number of studies have shown that it has toxic impacts when released into water bodies.

Upcoming events


Photo: Old shack in the canola field by Amy Templeman/Flickr

January 30/31: CELA to co-host two events to learn about the precedent-setting California case against Monsanto

CELA and Friends of the Earth invite you to hear from two of the California-based lawyers who represented school groundskeeper Dewayne “Lee” Johnson in his successful case against Monsanto (now Bayer). Both events will feature Michael Baum and Brent Wisner, part of the legal team that successfully sued Monsanto. They helped win a U.S. $289-million settlement, later reduced to U.S. $78-million.

Join us for a public forum at the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto on (Wednesday) January 30. The lawyers will be joined by Dr. Meg Sears, Chairperson of Prevent Cancer Now, who will provide a context-setting presentation of health trends and concerns in Canada.

WHAT: A strategic briefing for concerned citizens

WHEN: Wednesday, January 30, 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm

WHERE: The Gladstone Hotel, Toronto

Register here.

We will also host a lunch-hour briefing session for lawyers and activists at the CELA offices on (Thursday) January 31.CELA Counsel Joseph Castrilli will add a Canadian perspective to this case. Lunch will be provided.

WHAT: Briefing for lawyers and activists

WHEN: Thursday, January 31, 12 pm to 1:15 pm

WHERE: CELA offices, Toronto

Register here.

This lunch-hour event will be livestreamed on CELA’s YouTube channel.

February 7: Our Water Our Future in Waterloo, Ontario

Divest Waterloo is hosting an event to discuss the Implications of Bill 66 for our water and for our future. Speakers will include CELA executive director Theresa McClenaghan and vice-chair of Concerned Walkerton Citizens Bruce Davidson. There will also be presentations from Susan Bryant of APT Environment on Elmira’s ongoing water contamination, Kevin Thomason of Grand River Environmental Network on countryside protection, and Arlene Slocombe of Waterloo Wellington Water Watchers on the implications of Bill 66 on source water protection.

WHEN: Thursday, February 7, 7 pm to 9 pm

WHERE: First United Church, Waterloo

Register here.

February 7: Bill 66 seminar in Kingston, Ontario

The Ontario government’s proposed Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, will bypass several environmental protection policies for manufacturing and development opportunities. CELA counsel Dr. Anastasia Lintner will summarize the Ontario government’s open-for-business planning by-law powers that have been proposed in Bill 66, and provide context for what this proposal means to Kingston.

WHEN: Thursday, February 7, 2:30 pm to 4 pm

WHERE: Queen’s University, Room# Biosciences 1120, Biosciences Complex

Faces of CELA: Sarah Nixon


This month we caught up with communications volunteer Sarah Nixon to learn more about why she joined CELA and her plans for the future.

So what do you do at CELA?

My role consists of interviewing staff members and creating blog posts about their work to share on our website. This helps to spread the word about all the important work the CELA staff are doing every day!

Why did you decide to volunteer with CELA?

I began with CELA in October 2018, shortly after my move to Toronto from Ottawa. I’m here for the year putting my skills to good use before beginning the JD/MES program at York University in September 2019. I wanted to get involved with CELA to stay engaged with environmental issues here in Canada, and learn more about legal careers in this field. I was so excited when I learned about the opportunity to volunteer and find out more about how environmental advocacy is performed.

What inspired you to get involved in environmental law?

I’ve been passionate about the environment since I can remember. Some of my earliest childhood memories involve keeping my parents up at night with my worries about environmental disaster! My dad is very environmentally conscious, and instilled in all of his kids the importance of stewardship. Now that I’m older, I’ve found more productive ways of turning my concerns into action, and hope to make environmental protection the focus of my law career.

What’s been the best part of working with CELA?

It’s very inspiring to work alongside so many individuals who have built impressive careers in environmental law. Everyone I’ve met is really passionate and dedicated, yet so humble about the incredible work that they do. It’s a privilege to be able to delve into their work and learn more about the strategies that really make an impact in the protection of human health and the environment both nationally and internationally.

What do you think is a Canadian environmental success story that could be applied to other countries?

In 2019, new regulations to prohibit the import, use, sale, manufacture and export of asbestos came into force, after decades of struggle to ban the substance. Members of CELA did important work to help bring these changes to fruition. While some progress remains to be made—especially in preventing exposure to legacy asbestos in the built environment—Canada has taken an important step forward. Hopefully other countries yet to restrict the substance will follow suit.

What do you think is Canada’s biggest environmental challenge?

Definitely climate change! Drastic measures are necessary to mitigate climate change disaster, and that means holding all levels of government to account on Canada’s climate commitments. Of course, our national per capita carbon footprint is notoriously high, and policies are urgently needed to support a transition away from fossil fuels toward renewable energy.

When you’re not working, what do you like to do?

I do my best to make time for yoga every day. My whole family is very active, so I try to keep up by jogging and cross-country skiing as often as I can! Both sports give me a way to get outside and appreciate nature, whether it’s 25°C or -25°C. I was also lucky to be able to have lots of musical pursuits growing up, and am in the process of recording some music of my own this winter, before the intense schedule of law school kicks off in the fall.