DECLARATION OF THE SAINT LAWRENCE RIVER AS A SUBJECT OF LAW
CONSIDERING the global momentum for recognizing the rights to natural entities;
CONSIDERING that the anthropocentric posture has led human beings to break the connection and interdependence we had with nature, causing the degradation of our ecosystems, the disappearance of species and damage to the Earth’s biodiversity;
CONSIDERING that human beings are the cause of climate change and pollution of our water, air and land;
CONSIDERING that human beings must develop lifestyles in harmony with Nature;
WHEREAS Quebec must respect its international obligations in terms of protection of the environment, biodiversity and the fight against climate change;
CONSIDERING that it is necessary to recognize the rights of other forms of life, such as animals and ecosystems;
CONSIDERING that waterways, as sources and living environments in and of themselves, must be preserved;
WHEREAS the St. Lawrence River is listed as a Quebec historic site in the Cultural Heritage Register since its designation on June 20, 2017;
WHEREAS the time has come to give the St. Lawrence River and its basins a genuine legal status;
THE PARLIAMENT OF CANADA ENACTS AS FOLLOWS:
- The St. Lawrence River and its watershed is considered a living entity and a subject of law.
- The St. Lawrence River and its watershed hold fundamental rights set out in this Statement as follows:
• The right to exist and flow;
• The right to respect one's life cycles;
• The right to maintain its natural biodiversity;
• The right to maintain its integrity;
• The right to preserve its shorelines,
• The right to perform essential functions within its ecosystem;
• The right to nourish and be nourished by aquifers and tributaries;
• The right to be free from contamination;
• The right to regeneration and restoration;
• The right to sue.
These rights are inherent and flow from the existence of the River and its tributaries on Earth.
- The St. Lawrence River and its tributaries form an indivisible and living subject encompassing aquatic animal and plant species, as well as natural elements who constitute it.
- Guardians from riverside communities, First Nations and other stakeholders will act on behalf of and in the best interests of the protection and the enhancement of the rights of the St. Lawrence River and its watershed.
- The government undertakes to develop public policies that prevent and protect the rights of the River as well as fundamental human rights of water, sanitation, health and a healthy environment before serving the interests of others, on the recommendation of the Guardians of the River.
- The government is committed to implementing a participatory governance model that considers the River and its tributaries in a holistic manner.
- The government undertakes to put in place financial mechanisms in order to Guarantee the respect for the fundamental rights of the River and its tributaries.