By Peter Wood

Dear Blue Dot supporters and volunteers,

I wanted to tell you about a major development in the campaign to have the right to a healthy environment recognized in Canadian law.

Last week, the federal government responded to recommendations made a year ago to strengthen Canada’s most important law on pollution and toxics, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. One of the key recommendations was to recognize the right to a healthy environment.

While the government agrees with the intent of many of the recommendations and outlines a plan to modernize CEPA over time, most of the commitments lie beyond the next election. Ultimately they have decided to not fix the Act during their current mandate.

This is disappointing, and signals a missed opportunity. Given the incredible show of public support for environmental rights that Blue Dot supporters and volunteers brought to light over the past year, we expected a stronger response. This included more than 20,000 messages, 250 phone calls and 800 tweets to members of Parliament. Recently, a House of Commons e-petition, started by a Blue Dot volunteer, attracted more than 10,000 signatures in just a few weeks.

If you want to voice your concerns about the government’s decision to postpone action to fix CEPA and recognize environmental rights, we encourage you to write a letter to the editor of your local newspapers.

The government response does acknowledge that there is support for environmental rights in Canada, and commits to further study and to engage the public on this issue. Meanwhile, in the past few months both the federal Liberal and NDP have adopted party resolutions in favour of recognizing environmental rights, and the number of municipalities recognizing environment rights has grown to 168, representing nearly half of Canada’s population! Together we’ve made this a key policy issue, and that is something we should all be proud of.

It may not be the result we hoped for, but it’s a big step forward, and we’re in a good position to gain further ground.

In the coming year, Blue Dot organizers and volunteers will be working hard in the lead-up to the next federal election, securing commitments from all politicians and putting the issue of environmental rights on the radar for voters. We hope you’ll be part of this. We look forward to planning our next steps together. Stay tuned for further updates and opportunities to get involved.

I am deeply thankful for your dedication and hard work that has brought us this far, and I look forward to seeing what we will accomplish together as our movement continues to grow.