June 13-20, 2005

Quebec Bill 118 guides province toward sustainable development

The creation of a sustainable development commissioner and a "green" fund to support relevant initiatives of Quebec's Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks are among the provisions of Bill 118, the Sustainable Development Act, introduced last week by Minister Thomas Mulcair. The proposed legislation also sets out 16 principles designed to ensure orientation toward sustainable development by all Quebec ministries and agencies.

The goal of the legislation is to establish within the Quebec administration a management framework, based on these principles, which will guide the exercise of its powers and responsibilities. Among the principles to be taken into account are: health and quality of life; environmental protection; respect for the carrying capacity of ecosystems; social equity; preservation of biodiversity; pollution prevention; the precautionary principle; polluter-pays; access to knowlege and information; citizen engagement and participation; and the internalization of costs.

The act assigns the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks responsibility for developing, in collaboration with the other ministries, a sustainable development strategy for Quebec, to be presented for public consultation. Sustainable development reporting will also be required of individual ministries and agencies.

The post of sustainable development commissioner would, like its federal counterpart, report to Quebec's Auditor General. The legislation will undergo review by a provincial parliamentary commission this fall. More information is available on-line at www.mddep.gouv.qc.ca.

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