Principle 7:

We work to ensure the integrity of regulatory systems and the strict enforcement of laws that penalize unauthorized pollution. To eliminate biases and conflicts of interest, and to ensure that public- and private-sector polluters are treated equally, we advocate independent regulators, who are subject to due process and judicial review, and regulatory processes that require full disclosure of information.

The Principle in Practice:

  • Municipal water and wastewater systems are failing Canadians. Regulators – paralysed by the conflicts of interest that result when the same parties finance, operate, and regulate utilities – are refusing to enforce laws protecting public health and the environment. To ensure safe drinking water and effective sewage treatment, Environment Probe is calling for stricter government regulation (both environmental and economic) and for greater private funding and operation of utilities. The organization has promoted the privatization and regulation of water utilities in a number of forums, including the Walkerton Inquiry, which funded an extensive study of the issue. The Panel on the Future Role of Government in Ontario also commissioned a paper on the issue from the organization. Environment Probe’s book, Liquid Assets: Privatizing and Regulating Canada’s Water Utilities, was short-listed for the 2002/2003 Donner Prize, an award for the best public policy book in Canada.
  • To hold Canadian engineers accountable for upholding their professionally regulated duties to protect life and property, Probe International has filed complaints against engineering firms for their feasibility studies for the Three Gorges dam in China and the Chalillo dam in Belize. Our predictions of environmental harm, unanticipated costs, and poor performance came true, once the dams were built. In the southern African country of Lesotho, we wrote about the pathbreaking corruption case against Canadian engineering giant, Acres International, which was convicted of bribing an African dam-official in order to get contracts and cost overruns, arguing that Acres should be debarred from receiving future World Bank contracts. Acres was debarred, and after running into financial difficulties, Acres was soon bought out, bringing to an end the long and illustrious record of Canada’s most venerable engineering firm.

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