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ARCHIVED - A Guide to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 March 2000

Administrative Duties (Section 2)

The Administrative Duties are binding on the Government of Canada and include general requirements to:

  • protect the environment, including its biological diversity;
  • apply the precautionary principle that "where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation"2;
  • promote pollution prevention;
  • implement an ecosystem approach;
  • encourage public participation;
  • cooperate with other governments;
  • avoid duplicating other federal regulations; and
  • apply and enforce the Act fairly.

The Administrative Duties also include a commitment to "endeavour to act with regard to the intent of intergovernmental agreements and arrangements entered into for the purpose of achieving the highest level of environmental quality throughout Canada" (Section 2(1)(l)). This duty signals the Government of Canada's commitment to the 1998 Canada Wide Accord on Environmental Harmonization signed by the federal government and all provinces and territories, except Quebec.

There are also 12 sections in CEPA 1999 that require the Minister to "offer to consult" on proposed measures with provinces, territories and members of the National Advisory Committee that represent aboriginal governments. As well, section 2(1.1) requires consideration of the positive ecological and economic effects of proposed measures.

2 This version of the precautionary principle is taken from Principle 15 of the Rio Declaration that was agreed to by Canada and 178 other nations during the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development.

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