The far-left concept of “environmental racism” will soon become written into law in Canada and companies that open factories or establish landfills near “racialized communities” could be accused of racism. 

A bill championed by the Green Party which labels environmental hazards near Indigenous or other marginalized communities as  “environmental racism” received royal assent Thursday, passing the final step a bill takes before becoming law.

Bill C-226, “an act respecting the development of a national strategy to assess, prevent and address environmental racism and to advance environmental justice,” was first read in the House of Commons more than two years ago and will now become law.

Environmental racism is what policymakers believe happens when polluting industries operate in communities of predominately “racialized” or marginalized people. The argument follows that pollution disproportionally affects these groups.

“Today marks a historic victory in our journey towards environmental justice,” Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said. “The passage of Bill C-226 represents a commitment to addressing the long-standing and deeply entrenched issue of environmental racism in Canada.”

The law, which started as May’s private member’s bill, states that establishing environmentally hazardous sites such as landfills or factories in areas inhabited “primarily by members of those communities” could be considered racial discrimination.

In June 2023, the government passed Bill S-5, Strengthening Environmental Protection for a Healthier Canada Act, which made it a right of every Canadian to have a healthy environment.

Exclusion of any marginalized communities and racial discrimination in the development of environmental policy will now also be classified as environmental racism according to the law.

The new law will cost Canadians an unknown amount in taxes, requiring administrative oversight and research teams to analyze the effect of what the government calls environmental racism.

It will force the Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault, to collaborate with “interested persons, bodies, organizations or communities” to develop a national strategy that will address the “harm caused by environmental racism” in Canada.

The strategy will require Guilbeault to publish a study analyzing the link between race, socio-economic status, and environmental risk within two years of the law coming into force. 

The study will also include statistics about the demographics and health outcomes of people who live near “environmental hazards,” such as factories and other industrial buildings.

It will include a plan to address and prevent industrial buildings from being established in neighbourhoods where Caucasians are a minority.

The plan “must” include reparations for affected individuals or communities and any possible amendments to federal laws, policies, and programs to further protect marginalized groups from pollution.

“This a huge step forward for Canada to correct the wrongs of the past by saying that no matter where you live in Canada, you will not be vulnerable to conditions that put your health at risk,” Liberal MP Lenore Zann said.

The environment minister must prepare a report on the effectiveness of the national strategy every five years, which sets out the minister’s conclusions and recommendations.

Getting a home next to an industrial site has historically been cheaper in Canada. 

The law implies that the race of Canadians’ is intrinsically linked to their socio-economic class, making them more susceptible to pollution from industrial sites. A study by the Aristotle Foundation found that in 2021, the majority of Canadians living in relative poverty were white.

Those who advocate against “environmental racism” often point to examples of industrial and chemical factories that are located next to First Nations and other Indigenous communities, such as a case in Grassy Narrows First Nation in Ontario that has allegedly been exposed to mercury for decades.

Critics worry that this law will be used to hinder economic development across several potential industries including oil and gas.