David Anderson, the Minister of the Environment in the Chretien government, was responsible for Canada's signing the Kyoto protocol in 1998. Peter Kent, Minister of the Environment in the Harper government, has announced Canada's withdrawal.
Since Canada has announced its intention to withdraw from the Kyoto agreement on emissions reduction, it is important to see how seriously Canada is working to protect the environment internally.
Environment Canada Audit
The Office of the Auditor General of Canada has recently completed an audit of environmental science at Environment Canada and how the federal government is managing the enforcement of some federal environmental laws and regulations, specifically, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, 1992, and the National Energy Board Act.
The audit looked at how Environment Canada manages science including ensuring the quality and strategic relevance of scientific research to communicating scientific evidence to decision makers. The auditr concluded that Environment Canada has the necessary systems to conduct high-quality science and to ensure that the scientific research it conducts is based on transparency (Federal Sustainable Development Act of 2008) and open to other researchers to reproduce. The audit found that the internal systems that Environment Canada has for informing programs and management of scientific evidence are effective in enabling federal scientists to provide input into every major program area of Environment Canada.
The second objective of the audit was to ascertain the effectiveness of the enforcement of federal laws and regulations designed to protect the environment. The audit looked at the transportation of dangerous products and the enforcement of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999).
The Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, 1992 regulates the shipment of dangerous materials. It covers transport systems and substances regulated by Transport Canada, such as industrial acids and petroleum products. The National Energy Board Act governs the shipment of petroleum products through oil and gas pipelines regulated by the National Energy Board.
The audit finds that long-standing weaknesses in the management practices of Transport Canada’s transportation of dangerous goods program continue. The National Energy Board has developed a sound risk-based approach for monitoring the adherence of regulated companies to established regulations and standards, but the audit found that many of the emergency response procedures manuals submitted by regulated companies have not been reviewed.
CEPA 1999 is enforced by Environment Canada. The audit examined the enforcement of CEPA 1999 including regulations that govern a wide variety of substances and activities in the Canadian economy—from hazardous wastes to contaminated fuels, asbestos, and the disposal of waste at sea.
The audit found that Environment Canada’s enforcement program is unable to adequately enforce compliance with CEPA 1999. The Department’s enforcement program is limited by an incomplete knowledge of the regulated community. The audit found that some regulations are not enforced at all due to a lack of training for enforcement officers or inadequate laboratory tests.