Over the years Sierra Club Canada has played a prominent role in helping to ensure the success of environmental policy and legislative initiatives. The following list of milestones provides an indication of some of the successful campaigns that Sierra Club has been involved in, both in coalition with others and as a leading advocate.


  • Reducing smog pollution - Sierra Club Canada initiated and led a joint industry/environmental group coalition that has brought together provincial and federal governments with other stakeholders in a successful collaboration for a comprehensive federal and provincial regulatory regime to improve air quality standards, an air zone approach to managing air quality, and a multistakeholder Air Quality Council to oversee the regime
  • Raising public awareness about tar sands development - Sierra Club Canada and Sierra Club Prairie have been at the forefront of campaigns to raise public awareness about the adverse environmental impacts of tar sands development.  Our early leadership has led to a muchrooming of opposition to tar sands development across North America as well as Europe.


  • Stopping the Digby Neck Basalt Quarry and Marine Terminal - Working closely with local citizens' groups, Sierra Club Canada and Sierra Club Atlantic persuaded an environmental review panel to oppose construction of a basalt quarry and marine terminal, the ships from which would have damaged threatened right whales and damaged a community committed to sustainability.  The federal and Nova Scotian governments accepted the panel's recommendations; the quarry and terminal were never built
  • Ensuring that greenhouse gas emissions are assessed in tar sands projects - Sierra Club Canada won a law suit in the Federal Court of Canada requiring that greenhouse gas emissions are assessed as part of the federal environment assessment for a tar sands mine, specifically the Kearl Tar Sands Project.


  • The cleanup of the Sydney Tar Ponds in Nova Scotia will not include an incinerator for toxic waste, which would have further polluted local communities.
  • The destructive Mackenzie Gas Project has been delayed for five years and may never be built.
  • Federal funding has been committed to protect the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia, which encompasses a quarter of the Earth’s remaining ancient coastal temperate rainforests.
  • Phase-out of a federal tax subsidy to tar sands companies, as well as growing support for a moratorium on new Alberta tar sands projects, which produce the dirtiest oil on the planet.


  • The announcement that two million hectares of temperate rainforest would be protected from logging. The Great Bear Rainforest announcement is the culmination of what may be British Columbia’s most significant environmental campaign—a decade-long effort that saw blockades, international markets campaigns, and an unprecedented agreement between as unlikely allies as logging companies and environmentalists.


  • Stopping proposal to transport Great Lakes water out of the watershed via the Sustainable Water Resources Agreement.
  • Acheiving the commitment to a minimum of 5 percent mix of biofuels in gasoline and diesel by the end of 2010.
  • The passage of Bill C-15, which is designed to bring an end to the dumping of bilge oil from ships, which results in the deaths of some 300,000 seabirds annually off the coast of Newfoundland alone.


  • Both the Ontario Government and the federal government accepted our position against any diversions from the Great Lakes. The plan to allow diversions was halted. We were the first environmental group to identify the proposed Annex from the Council of Great Lakes Governors as a major threat to the lakes
  • The federal Ministers of Environment and Natural Resources jointly committed to push the carmakers to 25% decreases in greenhouse gas emissions by 2010, directly in response to a Sierra Club of Canada campaign
  • The British Columbia government received a report from public hearings, chaired by Roland Priddle, clearly stating that British Columbians were massively opposed to lifting the moratorium on offshore oil and gas development. SCC and our BC Chapter had been heavily involved in the coalition opposing oil and gas
  • The Quebec environmental assessment agency (Bureau d'Audiences Publique -BAPE) issued a report harshly critical of the threat to whales from seismic testing - the first step in oil and gas exploration - an issue which SCC had been coordinating and to which we had appeared in order to give evidence. The Quebec government blocked testing at the mouth of the St. Lawrence in the Gulf
  • After years of pressure, the federal government came through with $4 billion for the clean-up of toxic waste sites, with a very specific mention of the need to clean up the Sydney Tar Ponds. By May, the federal and provincial governments signed a $400 million agreement to clean up the notorious 300-acre toxic site. SCC has been the only environmental group, national or provincial, championing the plight of the local environment and Sydney residents
  • The precedent created by Sierra Club of Canada's victory in the Federal Court, quashing a permit for a massive mussel aquaculture facility in Cape Breton, was preserved when the company dropped its appeal. Although the aquaculture facility is proceeding under a new permit, it has been forced to adopt a phased approach
  • Nine municipalities drafted pesticide by-laws, and five adopted them in 2004. Often their efforts were supported by our materials and local volunteers. A total of 70 municipalities now have by-laws restricting the use of toxic chemical pesticides for cosmetic purposes.


  • Passage of Species at Risk Act
  • Reform of the Pest Control Products Act
  • Pesticide bylaws in 65 municipalities to date
  • Sierra Club successfully intervenes in Supreme Court of Canada which upholds Canadian Patent Board's refusal to patent Oncomouse (Harvard Mouse Case)
  • $4 billion committed to Toxic Waste Site Clean Up in the federal budget
  • Sierra Club was the only intervenor in environmental hearings in Fort McMurray appearing to oppose any expansion in the Athbasca Tar Sands.
  • Arctic National Wildlife Refuge protected another year
  • Failure of the WTO in September in Cancun
  • Key role in developing a strong new National Forest Strategy


  • Prime Minister commits to ten new national parks and five new marine conservation areas
  • Ratification of the Kyoto Protocol
  • Obtained a modified amendment in the Forestry Act for Newfoundland and Labrador guaranteeing public consultations for new forestry licenses.


  • POP’s treaty signed and ratified
  • Supreme Court upholds Hudson Quebec pesticide bylaw Chlorpyrifos banned
  • Moratorium on logging in Kaizer Meadow Brook, Nova Scotia
  • Moratorium on logging in Main River Watershed, Newfoundland
  • Elizabeth May goes on 17 day hunger strike to raise awareness of health threat to neighbourhood near Sydney Tar Ponds
  • Ensured the Quebec City meetings to pursue an FTAA include public engagement and a well researched critique of the environmental threat posed by the FTAA


  • Biosafety Protocol negotiated in Montreal set rules for movement of GMOs
  • Clayoquot Sound officially announced as a U.N. Biosphere Reserve
  • Nova Scotia government turns down controversial golf course proposal and announces a park for West Mabou Beach on coastal Cape Breton
  • Bylaw phasing out cosmetic use of pesticides passed in Halifax
  • Manitoba government postpones planned strychnine poisoning of wolves outside Duck Mountain Provincial Park
  • Existing Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement protected from threatened re-negotiation to water it down
  • House of Commons Environment Committee holds hearings on pesticide use and regulation in Canada, issues scathing report citing SCC evidence


  • Due to Sierra Club of Canada's "OntAIRio” campaign, Ontario sues US over NOX
  • Families along Frederick Street relocated in Sydney Nova Scotia
  • Commitment to protect "The Gully" off Nova Scotia as a marine protected area
  • Bovine Growth Hormone rejected from registration
  • Agreement to set aside pristine watersheds of Clayoquot Sound
  • George's Bank Moratorium extended


  • Multilateral Agreement on Investment negotiations fail at OECD
  • Jim Campbell's Barren, Nova Scotia re-protected
  • Sulphur gas regulations brought in, forcing Canadian refineries to clean-up


  • MMT banned (later overturned)


  • Carbofuran, highly toxic carbamate insecticide severely restricted
  • Sierra Club stops very flawed "clean-up" plan for the Tar Ponds


  • Fenitrothion, organophosphate insecticide banned


  • Protection of the Tatshenshini, stopping Windy Craggy planned copper mine
  • Canadian Environmental Assessment Act finally proclaimed


  • Earth Summit in Rio achieves limited environmental progress.
  • Sierra Club of Canada launches its (now) landmark Rio Report Card


  • Stopping the Great Whale Hydro-electric project


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