Under the Trudeau government, Environment Canada has inspected significantly fewer companies, potentially letting violations of Canada’s environmental laws go unprosecuted.
A recent report given to the House of Commons revealed that the total number of inspections conducted by Environment Canada has decreased significantly since the Harper government, going from 3,898 in 2015-16, to 1,608 in 2018-19 – a decrease of 59%.
“It definitely raises a lot of questions and concerns,” said NDP Environment Critic Laurel Collins.
“It’s wild that there was only one investigation that led to a prosecution in 2018 and 2019. I think most Canadians would be surprised to hear that. I don’t think anyone thinks there is only one company violating.”
As a result of the sharp decrease in inspections, in each of the last two years, Environment Canada investigated only 12 companies for violations of the Canada Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). Only one firm was prosecuted in that period.
By comparison, in their last year the Harper government investigated 43 companies and prosecuted and convicted 22.
Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson refused to comment when asked by the Canadian Press.
While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wants to “phase out the oil sands” to protect the environment, energy firms have not been a major source of CEPA violations. Dry cleaning and manufacturing firms are among the most recent violators.
Only a small fraction of all firms fined or convicted under CEPA have been based in Alberta.
Even as the Trudeau government claims climate change is a priority, prominent Liberals appear to be unworried about enforcing environmental laws or shrinking their own carbon footprint.
Last week it was revealed that the Trudeau government flew 144 people to a climate conference in Spain in November, spending at least $683,000 in the process.
Days later Wilkinson would say that Canada must strive for “deeper emission reductions.”
The Canadian delegation, which included many who were not representing the government, was lectured by activist Greta Thunberg about how they need to do more to combat emissions.
In September while Thunberg was on tour shaming people about air travel, Trudeau was using two planes to criss-cross Canada for his reelection campaign.
Trudeau would join Thunberg at a climate march held in Montreal.