August 13th, 2013

Statement from NDP on the court challenge to the Harper government’s new energy rules

New Democrats are dismayed that Canadian citizens have had to resort to taking the Harper government to court to restore their fundamental right to speak out on issues that impact us all. We urge the Conservatives to reverse their mean-spirited scheme which blocks Canadians from speaking at Energy Board hearings.

While we unequivocally condemn the actions of the Conservatives, we welcome civil society standing up to the Harper government to send a clear message that the abuse of Canadians’ fundamental rights will no longer be tolerated.

The Harper government’s malicious changes to public participation rules mean that any Canadian who wants to voice concerns about the potential environmental and health impacts of an energy project must submit a nine-page application for a chance to speak. The applicant must then face an arbitrary selection process by the National Energy Board.

The irresponsible elimination of meaningful consultation will also adversely affect business interests. Without the key element of social consensus, energy projects will no longer have the level of public support that they need.

We denounce this barefaced attack on Canadians’ democratic right to speak out on the issues that affect them. We urge the Conservatives to stop undermining Canadians’ fundamental right to free speech and public participation and reverse their reckless policy of arbitrary exclusion.

Megan Leslie, NDP Environment critic Peter Julian, NDP Energy and Natural Resource critic