The Potential for Right to Know Legislation in Canada

August 1992 (VOL. 10, NO. 2)

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Increasing public concern about environmental pollution has led to the implementation of a series of laws and public information systems about toxic hazards, know as the Right to Know, in the both United States and the European Community. The theoretical underpinnings of the Right to Know movement are examined, along with the implementation processes undertaken in the USA and Europe. The American model, in particular, is linked to the emergence of environmental public action groups and a corresponding decrease in government regulation. This system is criticized as being overly dependent on litigation as a punitive measure against corporate polluters. On the other hand, the European model fails to directly empower community\\'s with specific information and is weak on implementation strategies. Many of the characteristics which brought about the American Right to Know legislation are apparent in Canada. However, differences in the manner in which Canadian and American public and private sectors are organized are outlined, indicating why the American style legislation would be inappropriate in Canada. Nevertheless, a Canadian Right to Know system is required, although it is suggested that it be based upon the expert driven risk assessment and public information dissemination program, that characterizes on the European Community approach.