The Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Ron Thompson, tabled his 2007 Report to the House of Commons on October 30th. The Report found the following:
Sustainable Development Strategies
In 1995, Parliament amended the Auditor General Act to require most federal departments to prepare formal accountability documents called sustainability strategies intended to inform Parliament of the significant social, economic and environmental impacts associated with the departments' policies and programs and how each department would address them. The Commissioner reported that sustainable development strategies are not helping to ensure that departments assess the environmental impacts of their policies and programs along with the social and economic impacts. "The ambition and momentum that existed in the early stages of sustainable development strategies have faded", said Mr. Thompson.
Furthermore, the Commissioner noted that there is still no sustainable development strategy for the federal government as a whole to guide the efforts of the 32 departments and agencies now producing strategies.
Petitions are letters sent by Canadians to the Auditor General as a way to present their environmental concerns and questions to specific ministers of the federal government. Ministers are required to respond to petitions in writing within 120 days. More than 250 petitions have been submitted from across Canada over the past 11 years.
The Commissioner reported that petitioners and government officials alike believe that petitions have had an impact on the federal government's management of environmental matters. The Report points out, however, that the petitions process is not well known by Canadians and that better guidance for petitioners and departments would facilitate consideration by department officials and responses from ministers.
A copy of the full Report is available at http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/domino/reports.nsf/html/c2007menu_e.html.