OTTAWA — Dozens of municipal leaders from across Canada gathered in Ottawa today to call on the federal government to follow their lead and legally recognize Canadians’ right to a healthy environment.
Since November 2014, more than 150 municipal governments have passed environmental rights declarations, legally recognizing their residents’ right to clean air and water, safe food and an enhanced voice in decisions that affect citizens’ health and well-being.
“All citizens have the right to live, work and play in a safe and healthy environment,” Ottawa Coun. Riley Brockington said. “This is not negotiable and is a basic right for all people.”
The David Suzuki Foundation and Ecojustice hosted the event on May 31, bringing municipal leaders and members of Parliament together to celebrate the positive impacts of legally recognizing the right to a healthy environment.
“Local governments are leading the charge, but a federal bill would contribute immensely to our municipal efforts,” Peter Robinson, CEO of the David Suzuki Foundation said. “There are critical environmental issues that can only be addressed at the federal level.”
Over the past 50 years, the right to a healthy environment has gained legal recognition around the world faster than any other human right. More than 110 nations recognize this right in their constitutions, but Canada does not. Canada ranks 24th out of 25 OECD nations in environmental performance.
“Environmental rights are key to the genuine well-being of citizens and the ability for our citizens to live healthy, prosperous lives,” Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said. “In Victoria, we recognize that our natural environment is directly tied to our economic prosperity. Protecting it is vital to our long-term future.”
Evidence from other countries shows that legally recognizing the right to a healthy environment leads to stronger environmental laws, better enforcement of those laws and improved environmental performance.
“Eighty-five per cent of Canadians want to see our right to a healthy environment recognized in the Charter,” Kaitlyn Mitchell of Ecojustice said. “In the short term, a federal environmental bill of rights would go a long way to protect our families and ecosystems from harmful pollution, and empower Canadians by ensuring they have a say in environmental decisions that will affect their daily lives.”
Ecojustice and the David Suzuki Foundation are partners in the Blue Dot movement, a national campaign to advance the legal recognition of every Canadian’s right to a healthy environment.
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For more information, please contact:
David Suzuki Foundation
Office: 604-732-4228 ext 1211
National Campaign Manager, Environmental Rights
David Suzuki Foundation
lawyer | Ecojustice
416-368-7533 ext. 538