Liberal environmental policy places South Shore communities at risk

November 13, 2014

A new policy that prevents people from reporting environmental concerns to government places South Shore communities at risk, says NDP MLA Denise Peterson-Rafuse.

The policy wasn’t disclosed by the Environment Minister, Randy Delorey, until it was raised in Question Period by Peterson-Rafuse. It states that the Department of Environment won’t investigate any complaints by a third party such as an MLA or an anonymous source. According to Minister Delorey the policy is only in place along the South Shore as a “pilot project”. In a separate e-mail, a government official informed Peterson-Rafuse that the policy has been in effect for over three months.

“This is a bad policy, plain and simple,” says Peterson-Rafuse. “There is absolutely no excuse for not investigating environmental concerns such as illegal dumping and oil spills. Whether the complaint comes from a third party is irrelevant. The Minister of Environment has a responsibility to ensure illegal activities that harm the environment are dealt with promptly. This new policy just doesn’t cut it.”

In Question Period today, Minister Delorey said the policy was only implemented on the South Shore in case it’s a “bad initiative.” Peterson-Rafuse says that’s cold comfort to families living in the region.

“It’s not fair for people in my community to be forced to participate in an experiment without their permission,” says Peterson-Rafuse.

NDP Environment critic Lenore Zann says it’s wrong the Liberal government made this decision without informing the public.

“How many complaints haven’t been investigated in the past three months because of this new policy? What kind of environmental damage has occurred as a result? These are the questions people along the South Shore are asking now that they are aware of this reckless policy,” says Zann. “It’s really a shame they are just learning of it now.”