Canada to ensure clean environment a Const. right

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Toronto—A pioneering environmentalist this week called on Canada to make clean environments a constitutional right — an idea hatched decades ago and widely adopted but with mixed success around the world.
Canadian academic, science broadcaster and environmentalist David Suzuki in an interview with AFP said these protections must be enshrined in the Charter of Rights to prevent their degradation at the hands of skeptics who periodically come to power.
He pointed to former Tory prime minister Stephen Harper, who during a decade in office (2006-2015) “began to dismantle a lot of our environmental laws,” and to the US President-elect Donald Trump who has called global warming a “hoax.” “We’ve now seen a monumental earthquake kind of change in the United States with the election of Donald Trump,” said Suzuki, who turns 80 in March. “In one election we could see the overturning of decades of environmental legislation that worked.”
The collapse of fascist, colonial and communist regimes led to an unprecedented wave of new constitutions — more than half of the world’s constitutions were written during this period. This, combined with awareness of environmental degradation and the inadequacy of state responses, lead to more than 80 nations enacting some form of constitutional protection for the environment.
Yet ecological sustainability remains elusive. Suzuki lamented having to fight over and over the same battles of the last 35 years to prevent oil drilling in sensitive areas, or the construction of hydroelectric dams requiring extensive flooding, or supertanker traffic along Canada’s pristine Pacific coast.
“We thought we won 30, 35 years ago,” he said. “We can’t keep doing this, we have to change the way we have a relationship to the world.” Canada, he said, needs hard rules not subject to political oscillations. “We need to enshrine these rights in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” he said.—Agencies

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