A man walks in frigid weather at Rundle Park as emissions rise from the Imperial Oil Strathcona Refinery, in Edmonton, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2019. The federal government is pushing legislation to enshrine the right to a healthy environment into law but is giving itself up to two more years to define what that means. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

A man walks in frigid weather at Rundle Park as emissions rise from the Imperial Oil Strathcona Refinery, in Edmonton, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2019. The federal government is pushing legislation to enshrine the right to a healthy environment into law but is giving itself up to two more years to define what that means. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Feds enshrining right to healthy environment but no clarity on what that means

Government will have up to two years after bill takes effect to define that right’s implementation

The federal government is pushing legislation to enshrine the right to a healthy environment into law but is giving itself up to two more years to define what that means.

The amendment to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act is one of 87 recommendations to the government made five years ago when the House of Commons environment committee completed a mandatory review of the act.

It took the government until April 2021 to introduce the change but that bill died without debate when the election was called in August. A bill was reintroduced in the Senate in February.

The legislation says the government will have up to two years after the bill takes effect to define how that right will be implemented when it comes to enforcing the act.

Nunavut Sen. Dennis Patterson says it makes no sense to enshrine a right into law without providing context for what that means.

But Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault says any lawmaker knows you can’t define a legal element in regulation until that element exists.

—The Canadian Press

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