Stop environmental racism in black and racialized communities in Canada. Pass Bill C-230

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Bill C-230 is an Act respecting the development of a national strategy to redress environmental racism in Canada. It is a private member bill introduced by Liberal Party Member of Parliament Lenore Zann Cumberland—Colchester, NS and seconded by Green Party – Elizabeth May, Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC. This action implies that Bill C-230 cuts across Party lines. 

The Bill is not a huge ask. Several major organizations have endorsed Bill C-230. They include the David Suzuki Foundation and The Enrich Project. The Enrich Project website describes Environmental racism as

“the disproportionate location and greater exposure of Indigenous, Black, and other racialized communities to polluting industries and other environmental hazards. These toxic burdens have been linked to high rates of cancer, reproductive diseases, respiratory illnesses and other health problems in these communities (Bullard, 2002; Fryzuk, 1996; Gosine & Teelucksingh, 2008; Waldron, 2018)”

According to the parliamentary document of the first reading, the Bill is asking the Minister of Environment & Climate Change to develop a strategy that must include measures to:

  • Examine the link between race, socio-economic status and environmental risk.
  • Collect information and statistics relating to the location of environmental hazards.
  • Collect data and statistics about adverse health outcomes in communities that have been affected by environmental racism.
  • Assess the administration and enforcement of environmental laws in each province and
  • Address environmental racism, including concerning:
    • possible amendments to federal laws, policies, and programs.
    • the involvement of community groups in environmental policy-making
    • compensation for individuals or communities.
    • ongoing funding for affected communities and
    • access of affected communities to clean air and water.

An email to Obie Agusiegbe, Sustainabilty Community Aid Network (SCAN)’s Founder, dated February 16, 2021, from the Chair of the Black Canadian Caucus of Black Parliamentarians and other MPs, Greg Fergus, MP, states:

“This Bill passed first reading in February and has been reinstated in this session for consideration. This Bill is commendable as it aims to address racial discrimination in respect of environmental policy-making.

I am convinced that we can eradicate systemic racism by bringing forward, discussing and advocating issues on many fronts, including in legislation.

Please rest assured that I will consider the potential of Bill C-230 to track and reduce systemic racism. The second reading of the Bill will take place on March 22, 2021.”

Bill C-230 – National Strategy to Redress Environmental Racism is a much-needed piece of regulation that will go a long way to help build a more sustainable Canada. We should never forget that pollution happening in one location cannot be contained fully as the earth as a living ecosystem is continually interacting with itself. Based on this perspective, though the Blacks, Indigenous and other racialize communities located in affected areas are impacted directly, everyone else outside of that location is at risk.

March 22, 2021, is close at hand. We need the Bill passed. The only way that can happen is if the leaders we put in power support the Bill. That can only happen if you, the people, request your Members of Parliaments, Deputy Prime Minister, and the Prime Minister to support and pass the Bill. I am counting on you to do so.

You owe it as a duty to yourselves and God to show support for the Bill by contacting these individuals and letting them know you support the Bill.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

                                     ~ Martin Luther King Jr

More information about black and indigenous communites impacted and on going campaign can be viewed at https://www.environfocus.com/environbuzz/scans-climate-action-awareness-campaign/