Federal Government Cuts Off Environment Network, Indicates Disturbing Shift Away from Canadians’ Priorities

(Ottawa) MiningWatch Canada learned today that Environment Canada has reneged on a May 2011 commitment to provide funding to the Canadian Environment Network (RCEN). A news release from the RCEN states that due to this decision it “was forced to lay off its staff and is on the verge of closing its doors and those of its 11 regional offices.”

In the news release, Larry McDermott, Aboriginal Representative and Board member of RCEN, and Executive Director of Plenty Canada, described the RCEN as “640 highly diverse large and small, rural and urban organizations from coast to coast to coast. The Network forms an invaluable and irreplaceable grid of communication among environmentally concerned Canadians and the Government of Canada.”

MiningWatch is an active member of the RCEN through its Mining Caucus and Environmental Planning and Assessment Caucus. The RCEN 's delegate selection processes for multi-stakeholder initiatives such as the National Orphaned and Abandoned Mining Initiative and Mine Environment Neutral Drainage Program have provided MiningWatch and organizations across the country access to important consultation processes on the mining sector. While the outcomes of consultation processes are not always what environmental groups hope for, they have contributed to improvements in transparency, the rigour of environmental reviews and in regulations such as the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations.

“The end of more than three decades of dialogue between the federal government and RCEN members signals a disturbing shift away from democratic public consultation that previous Liberal and Progressive Conservative governments valued and supported,” commented MiningWatch’s Ramsey Hart.

Despite other challenges such as the economy and health care, Canadians continue to rank the environment as a priority. Canadians want to be sure that economic development is sustainable and that their voices are heard in decision-making processes. Cutting the funding to the RCEN ignores these priorities.

MiningWatch will be encouraging its supporters and network to respond to the RCEN funding cut by demanding Environment Minister Peter Kent re-instate the funding and live up to the commitments made earlier this year.

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Ramsey Hart, Canada Program Coordinator, MiningWatch Canada (613) 298-4745 (cell)

RCEN News Release