May 7, 2012 4:32 PM
Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver defended the government’s use of an
omnibus budget bill to pass changes to environmental regulations, arguing he has
spoken to Canadians about it and the opposition can put knowledgeable MPs on the
committee studying it.
The 400-page bill contains major changes to environment policy, as well as
budgetary measures and other changes.
The finance committee studies budgetary measures. Oliver says a subcommittee
will look at the environmental changes in C-38, the budget implementation bill.
“The study will be a public exchange with witnesses from every side of the
debate,” he said.
“The membership of the committee will be set by each party’s whip to ensure
that relevant critics can study these important changes.”
The government has faced criticism over putting so many different changes
into a budget bill, particularly from environment groups.
Conservatives critical of environmental advocacy groups
Oliver has referred to some environmental advocacy groups as radical. Last
week, Environment Minister Peter Kent accused some environment groups of money
laundering, although he wouldn’t name any of the ones he had in mind.
“Essentially what our government is doing through the finance committee is
investigating allegations that offshore funds have improperly been funnelled
through — laundered if you will, that’s a fairly accurate word — through
Canadian organizations that have charitable status to be used in ways that would
be improper given that charitable status,” Kent told Evan Solomon, host of CBC’s
Power & Politics, on Tuesday.
Pressed whether the use of the word “laundering” suggests criminal activity,
Kent said: “There are allegations — and we have very strong suspicions — that
some funds have come into the country improperly to obstruct, not to assist, in
the environmental assessment process,” Kent said.
The environmental review process is intended to determine whether a project
poses adverse environment effects and whether those effects can be mitigated.
Money laundering is a crime where the proceeds of illegal activity are
concealed or converted to look like they came from a legitimate source.
Imagine Canada, an umbrella group that represents charities, has demanded
Kent name the charities or retract the comments.
Asked for his view, Oliver said, “I haven’t used that term and I don’t think
people were being accused of criminal activity