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The Expert Panel on Federal Environmental Assessment – Big Changes, Big Challenges

On April 5, 2017 the expert panel appointed to review Federal environmental assessment issued its report Building Common Ground, A New Vision for Impact Assessment in Canada. The report presents an ambitious re-think of how Federal EA’s are conducted, and what they are intended to achieve. The panel’s recommendations – if implemented – will be the most significant overhaul of Canadian EA legislation since CEAA was enacted in 1992. Of greater interest to aboriginal communities, the Trudeau government’s response to the report will also offer a litmus test of its commitment to implementing the United Nations Declarations on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). The report’s recommendations are too transformative to be implemented through piecemeal amendments to the Harper-era CEAA, 2012. New legislation will be required, offering the Liberals the first opportunity to draft legislation affecting lands and resources that is consistent with UNDRIP.

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