St. Lawrence at the United Nations |  Journalism

St. Lawrence at the United Nations | Journalism

National Democratic Party deputy leader Alexandre Poliris will defend the idea of ​​the river’s legal status at the United Nations on Friday

Posted at 5:00 am

Joel Dennis Belavance

Joel Dennis Belavance

The deputy leader of the New Democratic Party, Alexander Poliris, would have never believed that one day he would be invited to go to New York to discuss the legal status that should be granted to the St. Lawrence River before the four delegates. The corners of the world gather at the United Nations.

That is exactly what Rosemont member-La Petite-Patrie will do on Friday, accompanied by the head of the International Observatory for Nature Rights, Yenny Vega Cárdenas, while the idea of ​​granting nature rights makes her way to UN offices at a time when the climate emergency requires unprecedented mobilization to avoid The sharp rise in the temperature of the planet.

Mr. Poliris and The Cardenas – who appear before the Trusteeship Council of the United Nations General Assembly at the invitation of General Assembly President Abdullah Shahid – have been campaigning for months for the St. Lawrence River and its watersheds, which also include the Great Lakes region, in recognition of a legal entity.

Magpie River, the first in the country

It is also inspired by the precedent set in the country in February 2021, when the Magpie River, a world-renowned white water rafting destination, became the first river in Canada to receive such status.

It was granted this status after the Mingani Provincial Municipality and the Inoue Council of Equinechit took decisions to this effect, which would grant it “nine legal rights”, including the right to sink, preserve natural biodiversity and take legal action. Such a situation could give it additional protection in the case of developing hydroelectric power, for example.

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When parliamentary proceedings resume on Monday, Mr Boliris will also have to introduce a bill in the House of Commons specifically aimed at giving legal personality to St Lawrence River, as the New Democratic Party (NDP) pledged to do during its latest election campaign. Concretely, this would give the river the legal right to assert its rights through a commission that would protect its interests and good health in cooperation with the First Nations.

The river and the third link

For example, the river can be heard through the commission during environmental studies conducted prior to approval of new economic projects or even road projects such as the third link between Quebec and Levis recommended by the Legault government. Elsewhere in the world, similar steps have been taken in countries such as New Zealand, India and Ecuador to give legal status to ecosystems.

It was impossible to know if Justin Trudeau’s liberal party intended to support the NDP bill on Thursday. Remember, Justin Trudeau and the leader of the NDP, Jagmeet Singh, have entered into a parliamentary alliance that will allow the minority liberal government to stay in place until June 2025. Under this alliance, the Trudeau government is committed to implementing some of the NDP’s priorities. In turn, the latter will support the liberals during the vote of confidence in the budgets, for example.

Mr. Poliris and Cárdenas, the lawyer, will speak at the organized dialogue under the auspices of the United Nations on the topic “Harmony with Nature” (harmony with nature), which aims to suggest ways to eliminate all practices that threaten biodiversity and various ecosystems. The event takes place on the occasion of World Earth Day, which this year focuses on the concept of the laws of nature.

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“huge icon”

In an interview with JournalismOn Thursday, on the eve of his speech at the United Nations, Mr Boliris said it was time to recognize that nature has rights that must be defended.

“For the first time, we’re going to be talking about the future of the St. Lawrence River at the United Nations. It’s absolutely epic. I’m a little nervous. But I’m also very proud to be able to talk about the river. Not only is it a wealth as an ecosystem and a source of life, it’s also a tremendous symbol for the people of Quebec.” It’s part of our collective identity and imagination,” the NDP MP shouted on the phone.


New Democratic Representative Alexandre Poliris

Yenni Vega Cardenas, who was also reached Thursday upon her arrival in New York, said it is necessary to change our models for exploiting natural resources.

“It is a great opportunity to be able to share the fruits of our work at the United Nations. It is important to change the paradigm. In the past, we thought that we were at the top of the pyramid, and therefore we are the masters of nature and we can exploit and even annihilate it. But we must rather understand that we are part of nature.”

We must make nature equal by giving it a legal personality also worthy of respect in any enterprise we may undertake.

Yenni Vega Cardenas, President of the International Observatory for Nature

“In the case of the St. Lawrence River, that would change a lot of things. We can no longer see it as a place where we dump our waste, as a landfill. We have to take our responsibilities, because river rights will become our responsibilities,” she said, calling on the Trudeau government to support the NDP bill.

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Rights in Progress Source

In the speech he intends to give, Mr. Boliris will assert that humanity has made tremendous progress when the fundamental rights of human beings have been recognized. Equally important progress could be made if rights relating to nature were granted.

Since the American Revolution, since the French Revolution, we have granted basic rights to all men and women. This march towards equality and democracy was a great step forward in the evolution of our human societies. But did we give nature rights, too? Not right. We still have this human-centered view that nature is there to meet our needs. interval. We can no longer maintain this position,” he will confirm in the letter he prepared.

“In a world that must contend with climate change, the systematic loss of animal space, and the massive extinction of living species, we urgently need to make a change. A radical shift towards peaceful, harmonious coexistence with our environment. Let’s put some balance in all this. Let us think about giving rights to nature. “.

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