MP Cannings makes statement with his bill to protect waterways in South Okanagan-West Kootenay

By on June 20, 2017

Richard Cannings, MP (Photo supplied)

MP Richard Cannings is using a private member’s bill to make a statement about protection of waterways in his riding of South Okanagan-West Kootenay (SOWK).

NDP MP Cannings introduced Bill C-360 in the House of Commons on Wednesday, though he’s not yet sure whether he will try to get this or another of his bills and motions passed when he gets a chance to put one forward in the fall.

The bill would add a number of local lakes and rivers to a list of ones protected for navigation under the Navigation Protection Act.

Prior to 2014, virtually any waterway in Canada that could be navigated in a canoe was protected under the Navigable Waters Protection Act, which imposed criteria on construction of dams, bridges, pipelines and other structures that might impede navigation.

“One of the more damaging legacies of the (Stephen) Harper Conservative government was the gutting of the Navigable Waters Act,” said Cannings. “With this bill, I am proposing to place back under protection some of the most vital and important lakes and rivers in our region, waterways that have sustained our communities and rightfully hold a special place in our hearts.”

Cannings believes the Conservatives brought in the change to make it easier to build pipelines and oil projects without undue assessment and oversight.

The Conservative law gave protection to only those waterways on a list – 62 rivers, 97 lakes and the three oceans.

Cannings said that in SOWK, the Conservative bill only protected Okanagan Lake, Kootenay River and the Columbia River.

His bill would add the Osoyoos, Skaha, Vaseux, Tuc-el-Nuit, Christina, Box, Summit and Slocan lakes, as well as the Okanagan, Kettle, Granby, Slocan and Pend d’Oreille rivers and Christina Creek.

When he introduced his bill, Cannings told the House of Commons that the federal Liberals promised during the 2015 election to repeal the Conservative law, but said they’ve since reneged on that promise.

A Transport Canada spokesperson said that Transport Minister Marc Garneau was asked in his mandate from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “to review the 2014 changes to the Act, to restore lost protections and incorporate modern safeguards.”

The Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities also agreed to study the 2014 changes, and that committee issued its report on March 23, 2017.

“The Government of Canada will respond within 120 days of that date,” said Clay Cervoni, communications advisor, in an email. “The committee’s recommendations will inform future decisions, however it is too early to indicate what changes will be made to the Act.”

Backbench MPs normally get just one chance to put a bill or motion forward for a vote in each Parliament and Cannings’ turn comes up in the fall.

Cannings also has a motion to establish a Department of Peace, which was first put forward by his predecessor, former MP Alex Atamanenko, and which Cannings reintroduced.

He also has a bill that would support building with wood, which he says is supported by the forestry industry, and he plans to introduce another bill that would remove a loophole in the Species At Risk Act.

Two other motions of his have been made redundant by the actions of others. A motion on British home children was separately adopted unanimously in the House and a motion on labeling of genetically modified foods was introduced as a bill by another MP, but was defeated.

Cannings acknowledges that MPs introduce multiple bills and motions that have little chance of passing in order to make a statement.

RICHARD McGUIRE

Osoyoos Times

 

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One Comment

  1. Martha Collins

    June 18, 2017 at 10:47 pm

    Thank you Mr. Cannings for your effort in increasing protection of Osoyoos Lake. The lake is the life our entire community.

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