About the Campaign
Environmental Laws Matter is a project of the West Coast Environmental Law Association. We launched it in 2012 in response to the government’s omnibus “budget” bills C-38 and C-45 that repealed or overhauled most of Canada’s core environmental laws.
Concerned with the rapid erosion of so many important environmental protections, we decided to fight back. For our wild spaces. For our climate. For water, fish and wildlife. For our communities. For our grandchildren.
We were not alone.
Hundreds of groups representing tens of thousands of Canadians from across the country took part in BlackOutSpeakOut, a campaign we and allies organized that culminated in a national day of action in defence of nature and democracy. Thousands signed our petition to stop the rollback of Canada’s environmental laws and our pledge to vote environment in the 2015 federal election.
We have continued to monitor and analyze the ongoing, systemic weakening of federal environmental laws, such as proposed regulations that would reduce oversight of fish farms’ pollution of wild fish habitats, and changes to the Canada Marine Act that weakened environmental protections on port lands. We submit comments to the government on such changes, and provide information and tools to the public to help them.
We also inform communities; West Coast staff counsel Anna Johnston has given dozens of community talks on the federal environmental law rollbacks and how those changes could impact people locally.
During the election, we published a report describing the federal government's track record on environmental laws and a comparison on the main parties' platforms on key environmental law reform priorities.
Now, with a new Canadian government and a number of federal commitments to better protect Canada's environment, our health and our democracy through law, it's time to get busy.
Tens of thousands of Canadians of all walks of life, from recreational fishers to scientists, farmers to urban environmentalists, are standing up for strong environmental laws to protect the things they care about.
Stand with us; join the movement to help build a strong, lasting suite of environmental laws to protect Canada’s environment, and learn more about the changes and what you can do to help.
The West Coast Environmental Law Association is a non-profit group of environmental law strategists and analysts dedicated to safeguarding the environment through law. We believe in a just and sustainable society where people are empowered to protect the environment and where environmental protection is law.
For 40 years, West Coast has played a role in shaping BC and Canada's most significant environmental laws and provided support to citizens, First Nations, and communities on practically every environmental law issue imaginable.
Like many Canadians, we care deeply about ecological balance, environmental sustainability, democracy and justice.
Meet the Environmental Laws Matter team:
A lawyer at West Coast Environmental Law, Anna has been spearheading the Environmental Laws Matter project since 2013. Born and raised on Vancouver Island in Coast Salish territory, Anna’s love for BC’s coast and wild spaces led her to pursue a law degree at the University of Victoria, where she participated in the intensive stream of the Environmental Law Clinic, determined to use the law to protect the environment and communities. After articling at Ecojustice, Anna represented First Nations and community groups on environmental assessments of major energy projects in BC and Alberta, where she learned firsthand the ways the rig is fixed in favour of resource companies. Now she’s putting that experience to good use, helping shape environmental law reform solutions that will lead to a fairer, more sustainable and democratic Canada.
Jessica Clogg is West Coast’s Executive Director and Senior Counsel and heads up our work on Aboriginal and natural resource law. Jessica first joined West Coast in 1995 as a student, and also served as a board member before becoming staff counsel in 1999. Jessica has said that she does the work she does “because she loves the land, and because she believes in justice.” Inspired to become an environmental lawyer through her experience growing up in a resource-dependent community in BC and working on land reform issues in Latin America, Jessica has dedicated her professional life to ensuring all voices are heard in environmental decision-making and to securing environmental laws that are more sustainable, more democratic and more just.
Alexis is West Coast's Senior Communications & Engagement Specialist. She has been following the shifts in Canadian environmental law and policy since 2012, when she worked as a reporter covering federal environmental law rollbacks and high-profile debates over pipelines like the Enbridge Northern Gateway project. Alexis has spent years working with campaigners, environmental allies and Indigenous partners to tell stories that inform, educate and inspire people to act in defence of the environment. At West Coast, Alexis collaborates with the legal team and program staff to engage individuals, organizations, media and other stakeholders in efforts to strengthen environmental laws.