Suzuki Foundation spearheads move to make right to healthy living a basic human right

The right to live in a healthy environment may soon become a basic human right, if the David Suzuki Foundation has its way.

The foundation is spearheading, the Blue Dot movement whose goal it is to amend the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to include the right to live in a healthy environment. 

Cameron Esler, Blue Dot movement organizer, in an email said the movement is, “one person at time, one community at a time I have witnessed people standing up to say that safe and healthy environment is important to them, their family and their community and that we need to change our laws to protect our right to live in a healthy environment.” 

He added the relationships formed through this process are the best part. “personally, I have gotten to know so many amazing Canadians through the movement.”

In order for this to happen, there is a process to be taken by Blue Dot teams all over Canada, as explained on the Blue Dot movement website. 

Pierre Sadik, a lawyer for Ecojustice, said that environmental rights are human rights because they are essentials of life and that the movement is important to Canadians. “I do not think it will fail,” he said. “I do think it will take a long time.” 

Members of local communities would press for resolutions by municipal councils, resulting in those declarations seeking the Charter respecting people’s right to live in a healthy environment. 

From there action would have to be taken on the provincial level. If enough cities and other communities unite in this common action, the next step would be provinces passing an environmental Bill of Rights. This step has been taken in Manitoba and B.C.

Once seven out of 10 provinces representing 50 per cent of the population have recognized people’s right to a healthy environment, then the ultimate goal of amending the Charter would be possible.

Co-leaders of the Ottawa Blue Dot movement, Linda Ablack and Bruce Rosove, said they have started the process by speaking with four local politicians. “All four were very open and positive about the proposal,” Rosove said. In order to get a bill passed here in Ottawa they need to get at least 13 of the 23 councilors on-board. 

Rosove and Ablack firmly believe that environmental rights are basic, necessary human rights. A clean environment, said Rosove “is what we need to live. It’s surprising we can’t take it for granted.” 

 “The human race needs to have environmental rights to help us be more conscious of and accountable for what we do,” added Ablack. “We really need to start changing the way we do things and working on sustainable solutions in all aspects of life and economy.”

The local Blue Dot leaders say the biggest struggle in the campaign is getting signatures and raising awareness. Both can be achieved by joining the 100% Possible Climate March on Nov. 29.

The march shares the common goal of sustainability, said Ablack. On their website 100% possible says, “a 100% clean, renewable economy by 2050 is not only possible, it is NECESSARY. It’s a vision that leads to a safer, more sustainable, and more just future.”

The march is just one of 2,075 that are happening all around the world as countries prepare for the UN climate summit. Even though events surrounding the summit may be reduced due to the recent acts of terrorism in Paris, the conference is expected to produce an international agreement to curb climate change.

“I joined the movement because I saw the need for change to existing or creation of new environmental laws,” Ablack said. It won’t happen over night but I definitely see it is on its way to happening. I believe most people want this. Canadians cherish the natural beauty and natural wonders of their country and would want to ensure they are protected.”

“I’ve got six grandchildren and I want them to live just as nice a life as I had,” Rosove added. He says he believes the campaign will help ensure that future.