November 2021 Bulletin

This is Your Day to Be Amazing

On November 30, the CELA Foundation will join thousands of charities across the country in the Giving Tuesday movement. For you and other generous Canadians, it’s your day to be amazing

Giving Tuesday kicks off the holiday giving season and mobilizes millions of donors to give. It’s the world’s largest generosity movement! In Canada, it’s nothing short of amazing, as communities unite to care for and empower one another. 

Giving Tuesday 2021 is especially important to support and amplify the important work we do at CELA. Hard hit first by changes to our public funding from Legal Aid Ontario in 2019 and then by having to cancel our 50th-anniversary event due to the pandemic, we are counting on our donors, colleagues, and friends to dig deep this November 30 to support the CELA Foundation. 

“The holiday time frame, from Giving Tuesday to the end of December, is a really important period for us. We rely on donations to the CELA Foundation to expand our public outreach and educational programming, and to support our articling program to train future environmental lawyers,” says Theresa McClenaghan, the CELA Foundation’s President and CELA’s executive director. 

These programs are essential to achieve the meaningful change that CELA works for year-round. With the information and expertise we share, environmental lawyers, advocates and the public can press lawmakers for reforms that ban the cosmetic use of pesticides, prevent dumping of toxins in protected lands and waters, and give vulnerable communities the power to participate in decisions that affect their well-being. 

With your Giving Tuesday donation, you can make our communities safer and healthier, and support our future environmental changemakers.

It’s amazing what we can achieve when we work together!

Photo Credit – Linda Pim

Case Updates

Grassy Narrows First Nation Challenges Ontario Mining Permits

On behalf of Grassy Narrows First Nation, lawyers at CELA and Cavalluzzo LLP have recently commenced an application for judicial review against the Ontario government. Among other things, the application asks the court to set aside nine permits that were issued by the province to allow mining exploration activities in Grassy Narrows territory. However, these permits were issued without notifying, or obtaining the consent of, Grassy Narrows, which is concerned about the direct and cumulative impacts of these industrial activities on Grassy Narrows’ rights, environmental health, and way of life.

CELA Client Celebrates Landfill Victory

Since 2013, CELA has represented the Oxford People Against the Landfill (OPAL) Alliance in its opposition to a mega-landfill proposed by a private company on quarry lands in southwestern Ontario. Our client’s concerns focused on the potential environmental and human health impacts of this proposed waste disposal site, particularly since nearby residents rely upon groundwater for their drinking water supply. OPAL and its members, experts, and CELA lawyers participated extensively in the environmental assessment process and worked with local municipalities that also opposed the landfill. A recent announcement from the Town of Ingersoll confirms that the proponent has now decided not to pursue the landfill project on the subject property.

Take Action

“Forever Chemicals” Should be on the Public Radar in Canada

The problem of PFAS, the “Forever Chemicals” is not on the public radar in Canada – but it should be.  While most Canadians have no idea they probably have PFAs (Per- and Polyfluoroalkkyl Substances) in their bodies, PFAS are found in many common consumer products such as furniture, cookware, and cosmetics.  Read the full media release here.

CELA and the Toxics-Free Great Lakes Binational Network (TFGLBN) recently released a PFAS Right-to-Know Toolkit, available on our website.  The toolkit explains why PFAS is now a public priority for elimination across Canada, and how you can reduce your exposure to these hazardous chemicals

Organizations can join CELA’s call for increased federal accountability on PFAS by pledging their support for our recent petition on PFAS.  More background on this important issue can be found on CELA’s website here.

Law Reform Updates

Don’t Nuke the Climate

CELA joined hundreds of other NGOs and civil society from around the world in endorsing the statement “Don’t Nuke the Climate” at the Climate Change COP26 held earlier this month in Glasgow.   

Representatives of civil society brought voices from a number of different countries to the table at a press conference hosted by Women Engage for a Common Future at the COP, who eloquently explained why nuclear is not a solution to climate change.  The representatives discussed nuclear power’s contributions to increased energy poverty, increased climate risk, and the increased risk to the “other” existential threat to humanity, that of nuclear power contributing to increasing proliferation of nuclear weapons and terrorism. 

As stated by the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, “nuclear power has no place in a sustainable future.”  CELA has joined colleagues in Canada, repeatedly calling on the government of Canada to step back from supporting so-called “new nuclear” and insisting that it is a “dangerous, dirty distraction” from real solutions to climate change in this country.

The full press conference can be watched here.

CELA’s Recommendations for Getting the Lead Out of Our Drinking Water

Lead in drinking water is an ongoing public health threat in Ontario. It is a priority at CELA because it disproportionately impacts the health of low-income children, and there has been uneven and inequitable protection from the health impacts of lead across the province to date. We recently made legislative and policy recommendations to the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks that are summarized in this new blog post.

Ontario’s Auditor General releases the Annual Report of Environmental Audits

Ontario’s Auditor General’s annual report on the environment concludes that the “Environment Ministry does not demonstrate, through leadership and actions, a commitment to upholding the Environmental Bill of Rights“.  The report highlighted many key risks to our environment, including lack of action on protecting species at risk, increasing numbers of hazardous spills, and an overall lack of reporting from the Environment Ministry in a number of areas.   Perhaps most concerning is reference to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing contravening the Environmental Bill of Rights by failing to consult on the changes to the Minister’s Zoning Orders, and that the Ontario government is generally depriving Ontarians of their right to have a say. View all the 2021 reports in full here.

Green Budget Coalition (GBC) Annual Recommendations Prioritize New Office of Environmental Justice

In its annual comprehensive package of recommendations for Budget 2022, the GBC features five recommendations addressing three critical environmental objectives: Net Zero Emissions by 2050 (focused on building renovations and associated jobs, phasing out fossil fuel subsidies and re-orienting public finance) Full Nature Recovery by 2050 (focused on improving freshwater management and permanent funding for protected areas), Environmental Justice, focused on creating an office of environmental justice and equity.

The GBC focus on Environmental Justice is in response to clear evidence that low-income, Indigenous, and racialized Canadians face disproportionate exposure to environmental risks and unequal access to nature/green space. A new high-level Office of Environmental Justice and Equity would be tasked with improving understanding of the burden of preventable environmental health hazards faced by racialized and/or disadvantaged communities; assessing possible interventions; and ensuring that all Canadians have the opportunity to enjoy the same level of protection from environmental health hazards and access to environmental health benefits. The GBC also recommends investments in transportation, renewable energy, nature restoration, fisheries management, action on toxics, sustainable agriculture, and other environmental issues.

Founded in 1999, the GBC brings together 23 leading Canadian environmental and conservation organizations to present an analysis of the most pressing issues regarding environmental sustainability in Canada and to make recommendations to the federal government regarding strategic fiscal and budgetary opportunities. View the Budget 2022 Recommendations and related media release online.

Closing the Gaps

Water Canada recently published an article co-authored by CELA’s Executive Director Theresa McClenaghan and Terry Rees, Executive Director of the Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Associations. The article addressed the critical need to improve and expand the implementation of Ontario’s drinking water framework to protect everyone’s drinking water in Ontario.  More background on this important law reform issue can be found on CELA’s website here.    

CELA Expresses Concerns Regarding Bill 13

Earlier this month, CELA made written submissions on Bill 13: Supporting People and Businesses Act, 2021 in relation to Schedule 6 (Crown Forest Sustainability Act, 1994); Schedule 10 (Environmental Assessment Act); Schedule 13 (Mining Act); Schedule 22 (Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act, 2006); and Schedule 23 (Public Lands Act). The submission identified CELA’s concerns, recommendations, and support to various aspects of the proposed amendments.

Inside CELA

Employment Opportunity – Deputy Executive Director

CELA is currently seeking an exceptional candidate for the newly created position of Deputy Executive Director. This is a permanent full-time position.  CELA will begin assessment of candidates for this important, newly created leadership position immediately.  Full position details can be found on our website here.

CELA Welcomes Krystyn Tully

CELA is thrilled to welcome Krystyn Tully to the team!  Krystyn joins us in the part-time role of Freshwater Program Officer for the next several months.  

Krystyn has more than 25 years of experience in the public interest sector, including 19 years of Great Lakes research and advocacy. She has a unique background in communications and public administration with a focus on grassroots participation and environmental protection. When she’s not hiking in the forest, she’s working with nonprofit leaders to develop strategies for sustainability and equity in the 21st Century. 

Webinars & Resources

Water Drop(In)

Starting in December of 2021, CELA and Environmental Defence will host monthly “Water Drop(In)” check-ins that will scan the water policy landscape in Ontario.  The intent is to identify what important law and policy reforms are underway, opportunities to provide comments or submissions, and who might be working on each issue.

These check-ins will be of interest to organizations of all sizes working on water policy in Ontario and individuals advocating for the protection of our shared waters.  To learn more and register for the first meeting, click here.

Making the Links: A Toolkit for Environmental Protection, Health, and Equity

Across Canada, low-income individuals and disadvantaged communities bear the disproportionate burden of adverse health and environmental impacts from contaminants that are discharged into air, land and water. The nexus between pollution, poverty, race, and ethnicity has prompted civil society, academics, lawyers, and non-governmental organizations to advocate for legal reforms that facilitate access to environmental justice.

This Toolkit has been created to pair critically urgent environmental issues with legal mechanisms for change and public advocacy. It has been developed with and for Indigenous and settler communities, and individuals throughout Northern Ontario. It is meant to be a foundational resource so that both individuals and practitioners can have ready access to solutions for environmental health issues. 

Environmental Assessment Primer

Rick Lindgren, Counsel at CELA, will be speaking at an Ontario Bar Association webinar on environmental assessment on Thursday, December 2.

Toxic Neighbour

CELA’s Executive Director Theresa McClenaghan recently sat on a panel discussing a new documentary produced by Canadian filmmaker Colin Scheyen, “Toxic Neighbour – The story of Eugene Bourgeouis who took on the Bruce Nuclear Station“.   A trailer of the film can be seen here.

Corporate Rules

CELA’s Executive Director Theresa McClenaghan has contributed a chapter on nuclear regulation in the forthcoming book “Corporate Rules: The real world of business regulation in Canada“, edited by Bruce Campbell; available in the spring. It will be available online at Formac Lorimer Books.

Our Risk Our Choice Rally
The people of South Bruce are demanding a referendum to weigh in on whether the Nuclear Waste Management Organization should site a high-level nuclear fuel waste Deep Geological Repository in their community.  They have prepared a compelling video getting out their message about the need for, and the reasons for a referendum to democratically canvas the community.