WWF-Canada Blog:

Our job and yours just got a lot tougher…and more important.

Today, the federal government passed the much talked-about Bill C-38.  Included in this budget bill are some significant changes to environmental laws – like the Environmental Assessment Act, Species at Risk Act, and Fisheries Act – that leave our natural resources vulnerable through weakened processes and lack of informed decision-making.


Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia, Canada. © Andrew S. Wright  / WWF-Canada


This decision—sadly, ironically—arrives on the eve of Rio+20, an international conference focused on sustainable development, which Canada has all but shunned. In this context, the passing of Bill C-38 further emphasizes and exacerbates the growing distance between Canada and other nations in addressing environmental concerns.  While emerging leaders are taking progressive approaches to prepare their economies for the future and steward their resources, Canada’s government –which oversees an enviable share of the world’s natural resources – is turning its back on nature.

The damaging effects of this Bill on the environment—and on the relationship between civil society and government—simultaneously make WWF’s mission more important and harder to accomplish. For more than four decades, WWF has worked with governments across the political spectrum to advance rational, collaborative and science-based decision-making about what is best for Canada’s environment and economy.  But today, this bill throws out that approach, and instead pits Canadian livelihoods against healthy ecosystems as if the former isn’t fully dependent on the latter.

It’s not just our approach and ideology that’s at stake here.  It’s also our day-to-day work. The far-reaching implications of this bill undermine our efforts to support a national energy strategy that will move us toward a green energy future. It hinders acknowledgement of the oil spill response gap that we’ve highlighted as a major risk of Arctic offshore drilling.  And it obstructs progress to restore and secure the health of our nation’s rivers and the fisheries they sustain.

However, the most immediate and visible impact of this bill will likely emerge in the Great Bear region of the B.C. coast—one of the rarest, most productive, and most spectacular ecosystems on Earth. The weakened assessment process resulting from Bill C-38 clears the path for the proposed Northern Gateway oil pipeline, slated to bring hundreds of huge oil tankers each year to this rare, wild space. And it helps silence the voices of Canadians who are concerned about the environmental, economic, and cultural risks associated with this project.

And that brings this all back to you.  Because while WWF’s job just became harder and more important, so did yours.   Canadians can no longer sit back and depend on our government to address our environmental needs, values, and concerns. If we can take one positive thing away from the passing of this Bill, it is a rallying cry to individuals and communities to become more vigilant and more engaged in defending our lands, waters and the globally important spaces—like the Great Bear—that make up our nation.

There are hundreds of ways to get started. Today, I’m asking you to take one: become a Canadian for the Great Bear. Join us and the Coastal First Nations in taking a stand on this issue, in this place—because the eyes of the nation and the world are watching. Choose a sustainable future for the Great Bear, and in doing so, help choose a different future for Canada. One that better reflects what this country is really about.

  • Lyla Flower

    Go Canadians!!! Stand up for your country! I have been to Canada and it is BEAUTIFUL!

    I ask myself how these politicians and money obsessed oil company CEO’s can sleep at night. My generation are the one’s that shall be cleaning up their revolting disgusting and selfish mess.

    There is a great moral shift in my generation, we value environmental stability far above economic welfare. We realise there are so many other investments, like the green sector that NEED to be developed to provide jobs.

    I just wish my generation could come of age quick enough. I just pray that the horrendous damage caused by money grabbing arseholes doesn’t destroy our earth too much before we can do something about it.

    I am so sad about the world that my generation has to inherit, governments and oil companies should seriously be given some morals. I despair at the the thought of the world in ten years time, but I know that my generation have FAR sounder moral values, that we will be treating our environment with far more respect, well what is left of it after these self centred jerks are done reaking havoc on our planet.

  • Catherine Beattie

    The Canada we once knew will soon be gone. A land of resources and large open spaces. Harper is putting future generations at risk, for the sake of money. As the First Nations saying goes, we can’t eat money.

  • Maureen O’ Connor

    Before Harper’s regime, Canada was our country that we could all be proud of. Now it’s an embarrassment. Canada no longer belongs to its peoples, its creatures or its land – it belongs to the golden idol of money. Is it not perfectly clear that without a healthy environment, there will be no economy!

  • Sheila Makarewicz

    I know who I won’t be voting for in the next election! Will it come sooner than expected? It is sad to see our country being raped of it’s water, land and wildlife, perhaps even more just to satiate an economy for whom? Companies who want to profit and not say where their profits shall go, back to Canadians, think twice, the shareholders need their shares first? Are we paying less? Examples of these practices are rampant all around the globe and even our back yards. What does that say about us, we allow it? Obviously we many never see a government that has great foresight and to say “no” when “no” is due, instead of using the line that our “economy” comes first and country last. There are clean and sustainable practices, unfortunately our government must believe these practices were/are too time involved & expensive to invest in at this time??? It must be faster to set up an oil rig, dig and ship. Simply apologize later for the spills, try to “clean it up” and its every man for himself. After all, time is of the essence.

  • Joel Leger

    I think as a Canadian we should all stand up for this. Its not fair that a greedy government can go and pass laws like this one without the direct consent of the people that live in and make this country. We the people can stand up for our rights and make a change. The power of the people is alot stronger than any government this is where we need to get together and start making changes or everything that makes us Canadians is gonna go to crap.

  • Richard Pearson

    I am very critical of Canada’s government’s attack on the environment, disguised in the Omnibus Budget Bill. The final result will be runaway climate change and disaster.

  • Christine Ma

    I’ve read several posted comments and I see and agreee with what’s happening to our country. We have so many wonderful caring people who stand up and speak out for our rights as Canadians and disagree with what’s happening. It’s too bad we have a government that sit’s on the knee of Oil Corperations who speak for them.
    What we thought would hold our Country together is crumbling. Why do we need a political system, it obviously caters to the coorperations that destroy everything around us while their little materialist world is protected by our tax paying dollars, a cushion, as well has their investment into these large coorperations themselves. Don’t kid yourself no politician is a good politiian.

    The historian and moralist, who was otherwise known simply as Lord Acton, expressed this opinion in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887:

    “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” –

  • Mary Norton

    We have inherited such an amazing environment through the generations, but our footprint in the 20th century has left a far far more fragile natural environment in the 21st Century for our children and grandchildren to inherit. We have to slow down and change our habits and persuade our governments and business to be part of the solution without being afraid of the short term consequences. Life is too short!

  • Genevieve

    We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.  ~Native American Proverb
    Because we don’t think about future generations, they will never forget us. 
    ~Henrik Tikkanen

    Our country has become obsessed with material belongings… We forget that everything we have comes from Mother Nature, and belongs to the earth. Quality of life is not based solely on whether the budget is balanced or in the red.

  • Jacques Prescott

    The Harper government is misled in his effort to build a sustainable economy. WWF should rally the environmental leaders of the corporate world in favor of strengthened environmental regulation. Harper should understand that strong environmental regulations can safeguard the competitive advantage of foresighted corporations and counter the inefficient practices that still plague major segments of our industry. Responsible corporations can do a lot in protecting our natural heritage and lead the way to sustainable development. Now is the time for these leaders to act.

  • Barbara Lannigan

    I have so many things I would like to say to the people that run our country, but I feel I would be wasting my time because I’m sure they know the impacts these decisions will make on our environment. All I can say is I’m ashamed, so ashamed of you. Just remember alot of tourists come to Canada because of the Beauty, Nature & Wildlife our Country has to offer, and that equals alot of Money, which I’m sure makes sense to you.

    Have a Nice day & Remember, this is on your shoulders.

  • Lisa P

    Start thinking ahead politicians! You cant buy back clean air and water, extinct species, coastal land, but I bet you will be the first to complain when something becomes inconvenient.
    What happens when we end up killing off species that pollinate crops? Food shortages. What happens when water gets too polluted to use? Water bans and regulation limiting usage. And so much more. Great legacy you’re leaving Canadians. You should be so proud of your greed and ignorance. I would say your naive, but as our Government you are informed and know better. When do you start hearing the people who vote you in?? Time to remember you work for the masses not just the few who speak the loudest or have the most money.

  • What are you politicians thinking? You are NOT thinking! Bill C-38 is an environmental disaster just waiting to happen. You are putting the environment at a tremendous risk. You are just concerned about making more money. A pipeline in this area is unneccesary. WHY ARE YOU DESTROYING OUR NATURAL BEAUTY? The greediness of politicians WILL BE a hug loss for Mother Nature. START WORRYING ABOUT FEEDING THE STARVING CHILDREN IN OUR COUNTRY INSTEAD OF SPENDING MILLIONS ON A PIPELINE THAT NO ONE WANTS!!!! (except the rich politicains and oil executives)

  • jan

    Do the bigwigs in Ottawa ever take time to go and enjoy the beautiful nature that we have? I think not. They only care about themselves! They are a greedy lot! Big cars, big salaries are the only things that worry them. God made beautiful nature for a reason..to be loved and enjoyed by all….not for mankind to destroy!!! Wake up OTTAWA!! Get your heads out of your asses and look at the real world. ENJOY it for once instead of trying to destroy it! What goes round…comes around!

  • Barb Collier

    We need an amalgamation of NGO’s and citizens in a concerted effort to put forward the views of the majority of Canadians and world citizens that the Environment and its protection is a priority. If this means protest, demonstrations, boycotts, then for once Canadians must stand up and be counted; we must be ‘radicals’ to mimic Joe Oliver’s words. We have witnessed what happened in the Gulf of Mexico, we are watching the greed of multinationals supported by world governments in dividing up the Arctic as climate change melts the polar ice caps, and now we have two pipelines–the XL and the Enbridge–which will transport heavy bitumen through aquifers, rainforest, and coastal waters of B.C. Never fear, a oil spill will occur, whether into an aquifer, rainforest watersheds or the Inner Passage–one only needs remember of Exxon Valdez to fear the devastation heavy bitumen will cause. Canadians, we can no longer stand by and let this happen. WWF, we need you to begin the internet campaign to gather the force of nature lovers to fight back.

  • I think WWF-C should invite the big cannons, environmental champions, form the Conservatives and the Liberals i.e Brian Mulroney and Jean Chretién, to speak up and defend their and Canada´s natural legacy.

  • Michael Kursbatt

    People tell us what they DO want: A sustainable future without risky oil-transferring pipelines, oil-carrying tankers operating in eco-sensitive difficult-to-navigate coastal waters, risky bitumen mining causing pollution which has proven to be killing wildlife and people . Humanity is Nature just as all other species on this beautiful planet. We’re interdependent and cannot live without a supporting environment — as demonstrated by fundamental science — we learn this in school. Permaculture methods prove that environmental damaged can restore habitat over time. But avoidance of eco-damage is the objective. Our children and grandchildren will be given the expensive task of restoring the mess that is being created by the Harper led conservative policies which are reducing environmental safeguards while increasing exploitation and corporate profits. This is not conservatism. It’s all about money. It is short-term financial gain and an irresponsible lack of care for what the people of Canada do want. Take a lesson from the countries that are developing alternate resources, which eventually we’ll purchase when the oil is depleted.

  • Judy Kennedy

    Have our politicians buried their money grubbing hands so deep in the pockets of big oil and industry to support their campaigns, that they have to sell out our environment to pay the ransom? Why were so many millions of taxpayers dollars spent, updating the provincial and federal Species at Risk Acts, only for them to be gutted and made useless by the mere stroke of a pen. Burying all of the changes to our Species at Risk, Fisheries Park Management Acts, so that it cannot be debated, is reprehensible and stinks of dishonesty.

    Our politicians were voted in by us, based on the campaign promises they made. Have we been lied to? I think so. Maybe it’s time for an election. Wonder what “Swan Song” they’ll be singing this time! Whatever it is, don’t believe it.

  • Wayne Jackett

    This is just another blunder by the idiot we have as a PM and his cohorts. This party is too ill-informed and self-centered to understand the natural resources of Canada. Harper and his party r slowly destroying Canada’s natural resouces and the conservatives should be stopped, by any means, legally.

  • I just read this story and was stuck by the dire position taken by the Harper administration ignoring the immense value of Canada´s natural heritage. A position that works much against Canada´s historical standing in the world as reflected by previous both Conservative and Liberal governments.

    I would therefore like to suggest to also rally the opinion of key former Canadian environmental champions who very well represented Canada´s interests such as Brian Mulroney and Jean Chretién and have them voice their concerns now as they did back then. This is something that perhaps only WWF is capable of doing and may help to address these highly critical matters raised by Bill C-38.

  • blake

    unfortunately i hear Enrico’s comment more than any. money rules politics and most people believe what they here from ads (ethical oil) or they simply don’t care, hence the low voter turnouts. i fear for my 3yr olds future since my generation and the last one has squandered and destroyed most of what we have. this is a great country and i am a proud canadian,but that pride is slowly fading as i see what is happening to our home.

  • Jacqueline

    Appalling is a mild word for what is going on. I am glad to be old and not to witness more devastation which we are heading toward and I am grateful to have spent some time in a world that was not ruled by oil companies and industrial food corporations.
    My plea is for the Beautiful West Coast of BC – don,t let “them” destroy it. Have we not learned from the Gulf disaster and many others – WHERE THERE IS OIL THERE ARE SPILLS.
    We need a stronger “save the West Coast campaign”. Where do we start?

  • Mike Giommi

    We must fight for what we believe in. We must show the Government and Big Business that we are not sheep, and that we will exercise every legal means at our disposal to stop them from destroying our natural world. If we do not act , as a species, the legacy we will leave our children and their children, after them, will be one of polluted waters, polluted air, and polluted soil, in other words a very bleak future. This, so we can maintain the same standard of living that has enabled us to squander, and keep on wasting the precious bounty that this beautiful world offers us.
    Big business, and Government will tell us that we will be stronger as a country, and better off economically, but what they do no tell us is that they will take the lions share of any profits, and sit back and watch as we toil for a pittance of those profits. However, that fact is insignificant compared to the damage that will be done to our environment if we allow them to move forward with Their proposals.
    What do you say, shall we stop being sheep? Lets tell them to keep their dirty mitts off our world.

  • Debbie

    To Enrico:
    Yes, it is worth fighting for our planet, even when it’s our gov’t.
    The Conservative Party actions seem to be making more and more Canadians angry; some of them are even Conservatives! And it’s the Conservatives who are in power right now who are the ones who are so short sighted. More and more Canadians are coming to realize that we can have a good quality of life and still be good stewards of the earth. We have to live by example and help others to see how to do it. Eventually the Conservatives will have to change their policies or get booted out of office (I hope). It sounds like Mulcair of the NDP may be more forward thinking, from what I’ve read.

  • denise leveel

    what are they thinking? you can’t reproduce this kind of environment from a streak of scientific geniuses! Once it’s gone, the future generation will remember it as a dark age mentality. To develop new energy, you have to make investment in the long term. I only see a desperate governement in action here. What is going on?

  • Chris Morry

    The environmental movement in Canada and environmental NGOs like WWF Canada can more effectively attack backward policies like these by taking a leaf out of Harper’s own play book. For the first two years he was in power he insisted that all government announcements be prefaced by “Canada’s New Conservative Government” to put the Conservative stamp firmly on all the things Canadians paid for through their taxes. It worked. He managed to con enough people with this word play to buy a second minority and finally a majority. Now that he is showing his true stripes we should continue to refer to the policies and actions coming from this crowd as being the Conservative Party policies and actions, not the actions of the Government of Canada. Because of our weird system of elections in this country a party with only 40% of the popular vote can form an overwhelming majority. The actions of such a Parliament do not represent the interests of Canadians nor the other parties. Call a spade a spade and brand these as “Harper’s” policies or the “Conservative Party’s policies, not the Government of Canada’s policies. That gives them legitimacy they do not deserve.

  • Primrose Wylde

    It is certainly very saddening that Canadian government, after all of David Suzuki’s attempts (poor guy), is still so so ignorant. There will be a huge ‘wake up’ call any time soon. Mother Earth, our Earth Mother w,ho birthed us and has organs & chakras similar to ours,of course, (Since we originated from Her & Heavenly Father.), will show Her displeasure in many, many ways in the near future. WAKE UP oh ye of little faith. And to those who are in power.. time to put on REAL spectacles!!

    Love Peace & Harmony, P A

  • Marsha Bailey

    My big problem with Bill C-38 is that it was purportedly a budget bill…with lots of unrelated legislation tacked on so that it wouldn’t be open to the same scrutiny and debate it would were it included in separate legislation. Case in point – the evisceration of environmental protection legislation in Bill C-38. That just seems dishonest; if the government wants to make changes, it should be prepared to defend its position.

    Unfortunately, it’s the current government’s modis operandi. And reflects the total absence of accountability that has resulted in so many scandals involving cabinet ministers, forged documents and expenses.

  • Peter Shaw

    Make positive changes rather than regressive ones. Thank you.

  • Walter Menzel

    The people that get hired into our government offices just don’t get it! We all exercise our electoral votes voicing our concerns and hope that the people that get placed into power will have some semblance of integrity to follow through on their commitments to their offices that they have been elected and/or hired too. They are not there to represent non-human entities, but the Canadian public.

    All Canadians, if not the majority have been voicing their concerns for the environment for the last 20 odd years or more and now the World looks on, especially Europe on how we deal with our precious lands. The Europeans having devastated their lands through wars and industry growth quickly turned around their environmental policies in all Western Countries from the 70’s on. Here we are, the largest country on earth with the smallest population and instead of thanking God for this precious land, the ones in power exploit our lands and its’ resources in the name of jobs but more so, to line their own pockets.

    It’s time that we as a nation stand up to our Governments regarding the exploitations of our lands and resources. We did this once when we we’re about to lose Quebec to separation. How much more should we be involved to save our country from this environmental devastation? Once it’s gone, it’s gone and those precious wildlife species that we have the privilege to share this land with, will be gone forever, as will that bottom line for the corporation! Come Canada, stand up and let’s put aside “Politically Correct” and let us restore our Country for the courage, greatness and bravado of our former years! Then we can respect ourselves once again and the countries of the world can look at us with admiration and respect once more.

    Demand the changes to Bill C-38 and any other bills that do not support the protection of our environment.

  • Patsi Longmire

    We do not need to be regressing at this time in human & environmental history. I live in B.C. & want the Great Bear region to be pristine, untouched by oil pipelines, and our coast is under such dire threat from super tankers full of oil. The issue is NOT to become a world leader in oil (that’s regressive & short-sighted), but to be a world leader in environmental protection & to remain the most beautiful & wild country on earth. No money comes from that (except perhaps tourist dollars) but there’s more to life than money! (how about alternate energies: wind, tidal, solar, geothermal, etc???)

  • Enrico Messana

    Is it worth fighting against the government of Canada on the environment? This governemnt was voted by the majority of Canadians and that tells me that the majority of Canadians are fine with what we are doing to our land and environment.
    The game is simple: lets make as much money as possible by exploiting the envionment and leave to someone else in the future dealing with the consequences of what we are doing today.
    I read about some mines in eastern Canada that are starting releasing the worst poisons to the environment due to the gloabal warming that is thawing the pipes filled with pollutants left in the past for us.
    The funny thing is that many nations in the world thought that Canada was a paradise and they are starting to realize about our reality.

  • Katie Edmonds

    Hi Troy,

    Thanks for getting in touch. The issues that Canada is facing are complicated and it can be tough to know how best to help. One step you can take right now is to pledge to become a ‘Canadian for the Great Bear’ and officially show your support for a clean, sustainable future for Canada:


  • TroyPresseault

    Recently the hard ships that our race has been putting on the enviorment has caused me much sadness. I want to see a world where we cherish the land we are lucky enough to share with all living things. I Personally want to do everything i can to help im just not sure what it is i can do. I would like to see information on how i can help. i want to be involved in a positive change