Montreal, October 8, 2021In the wake of the government’s adoption of worrisome or inadequate environmental protection laws, in particular the Act respecting the acceleration of certain infrastructure projects, the Quebec Environmental Law Centre (CQDE) welcomes most of the amendments proposed by Bill 102, which aim to harmonize standards and, in some cases, strengthen them

A bill of this scope is a great opportunity to further improve the legal framework for better environmental protection,” explains Geneviève Paul, executive director of the CQDE. “We hope that parliamentary work will improve the bill by adding, in particular, enhanced consideration of the climatic and cumulative impacts of various activities and greater access to information on environmental matters,” adds Ms. Paul. 

A significant portion of the bill addresses administrative and criminal provisions. The bill proposes the adoption of new legislation, namely An Act respecting certain measures to implement environmental and dam safety legislation, which would essentially standardize inspection powers. The CQDE is however concerned about the risks associated with subcontracting inspections, since we believe that the Ministry of the Environment itself should have the necessary means to carry out the functions conferred to it by Quebec’s environmental legislation and ensure meaningful implementation of the Environment Quality Act.

The CQDE welcomes certain improvements to the regulation of the possession of pesticides and pesticide-coated seeds proposed in the bill. Finally, the CQDE applauds the government’s proposal to adopt the necessary powers to ban gasoline-fuelled vehicles by 2035, although many additional measures could have been proposed in order to meet the requirements dictated by climate science and to respect our international commitments. 

As for the suggested changes to the Environment Quality Act, they do not appear, at first sight, to entail any potential negative effects on environmental protection.

The amendments to the Mining Act seem designed to improve consultation processes with Indigenous peoples in the context of mineral exploration activities, a request repeatedly made by Indigenous communities. This is therefore a step in the right direction, but the CQDE is concerned about the bill’s silence on this subject. Obviously, authorization by the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources will be subject to prior consultation with Indigenous communities pursuant to the constitutional obligation, but why not have directly specified in the bill that this prior consultation is the main objective of these changes? It should also be noted that the bill does not provide for authorization at the pre-registration stage of claims. It is however at this preliminary stage of the registration of claims that consultation is being demanded by communities such as Mitchikanibikok Inik (Algonquins of Barriere Lake) in an ongoing legal proceeding.