Guilbeault leads roundtable on “environmental racism” 
Guilbeault might not want to build any more roads, but at least he’s tackling … environmental racism.

Mike Campbell

March 14, 2024

A day after Alberta Premier Danielle Smith reiterated her call for Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault to be fired, the self-proclaimed socialist and former radical activist led a roundtable discussion that addressed “environmental racism.”

Guilbeault leads roundtable on “environmental racism” 

The relatively new term refers to environment-related policies that disproportionately harm marginalized ethnic groups.

“The Government is engaging Canadians on environmental justice and racism to highlight the fact that certain communities have been disproportionately affected by environmental hazards like pollution, toxic waste, landfills, and dumps,” a government statement read. 

The session focused on struggles from a Black community in Shelburne, Nova Scotia, where for 75 years – until its closure in 2016 – a landfill released emissions that potentially damaged nearby residents’ health. A study is currently underway investigating the potential link between the dump site and cancer rates in the community.  

Ongoing water contamination issues coming from the community’s dug wells remain, due to bacteria build up.

Guilbeault’s roundtable included representatives from the ENRICH Project, which tackles the impact that environmental racism and climate change have on marginalized communities in Canada.

A key topic was the advancement of Bill C-226, originally proposed by the Green Party’s Elizabeth May in 2021, titled “An Act respecting the development of a national strategy to assess, prevent and address environmental racism and to advance environmental justice.”

Enviro-racism bill nearly passed

The bill stipulates that, upon enactment, a comprehensive plan must be established within two years, formed through consultations with affected parties.

Having already passed through the House of Commons, Bill C-226 went through second reading in the Senate in October of last year.

“This legislation recognizes the need to rectify the disproportionate environmental burdens faced by certain communities, especially Black, Indigenous, and other racialized groups,” Minister Guilbeault’s statement reads.

Agassou Jones, the chair of Nova Scotia’s Environmental Racism Panel, told CBC last year he hopes changes that come from the discussions allow Indigenous and African Nova Scotians to be “first on the list for the positivity of climate change initiatives.”

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