A new Liberal private members bill aims to address “environmental racism” in Canada.

The bill, Bill C-230, sponsored by Liberal MP Lenore Zann, claims that  “a disproportionate number of people who live in environmentally hazardous areas are members of an Indigenous or racialized communities.” It also states that “establishing environmentally hazardous sites” in areas where these said communities live can be a form of “racial discrimination.” 

The bill calls for the Environment Minister to “develop a national strategy to promote efforts across Canada to redress the harm caused by environmental racism.”

The bill states that the strategy must “assess the administration and enforcement of environmental laws in each province.” This has complications with natural resources as a provincial jurisdiction according to the constitution.

The Conservatives are the only opposition party that oppose this bill. No Conservative MP voted in favour of it. 

Bill C-230 has passed its second reading in the House of Commons. An amendment was added by the Bloc Quebecois citing a concern over the federal government getting involved in provincial jurisdiction. 

The term ”environmental racism” was first developed by Benjamin Chavis, a black civil rights leaderwho defined as: “racial discrimination in environmental policy-making, the enforcement of regulations and laws, the deliberate targeting of communities of colour for toxic waste facilities, the official sanctioning of the life-threatening presence of poisons and pollutants in our communities, and the history of excluding people of colour from leadership of the ecology movements.”

With a possible election this fall, Bill C-230 is not likely to become a focal point. This allows the Liberals, along with the NDP and Bloc, to be able to pass the bill in the next parliament with anything less than a Conservative majority.

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