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May 5th, 2022

NDP tables historic bill to protect the St. Lawrence River

OTTAWA – Today, NDP Deputy Leader and Deputy Environment Critic, Alexandre Boulerice, tabled his bill in the House of Commons to grant legal status to the St. Lawrence River and its watersheds. This proposal is a North American first and would improve the protection of the river's ecosystems, thereby helping ensure the overall environmental health of Quebec.

"It is a great honour for me to be able to participate in the international movement for the protection of the rights of nature and to take decisive action today to safeguard the River, promote reconciliation and protect Quebec as a whole. This is truly a historic moment and I can only thank the members of the International Observatory on the Rights of Nature for all their work," said Boulerice. "I am proud to be part of a political party that has the audacity to put forward leading-edge action plans to have a real impact on our future generations."

On Earth Day, Mr. Boulerice was in New York to give a speech on his bill as part of the United Nations dialogue on the theme "In Harmony with Nature." He was accompanied by Ms. Yenny Vega Cárdenas of the International Observatory on the Rights of Nature (IORN), who was also invited to address the United Nations. The IORN was actively involved in the first recognition of the rights of nature in Canada for the Magpie/Mutehekau Shipu River.

"We have existing water legislation that is, in many ways, ineffective," said Ms. Vega Cárdenas." Strengthening this legislative framework by granting the River legal personality and appointing guardians for water protection, seems all the more relevant given the St. Lawrence River's current condition."

In response to the news, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, David R. Boyd, said "The St. Lawrence River is the beating heart of Quebec, but it has suffered from centuries of exploitation. Legislation recognizing the rights of the St. Lawrence River would mark a groundbreaking moment in Canadian history, in recognition that our future depends on living in harmony with nature!"

IORN members were in attendance today at the Quebec National Assembly for the tabling of a counterpart bill at the provincial level.