What can we do to press for constitutional reform in Canada? We’ll have much to say on this subject at a later date, but clearly the place to begin is with a nationwide conversation on the rights of nature and, flowing from that, the right to a healthy environment.

Please have a look at the following clip from the Ecuadoran Constitution. We think you’ll agree it’s a fine conversation opener. At the very least it raises the question, why not Canada too?

Chapter Seven: Rights of Nature

Article 71. Nature or Pacha Mama, where life plays and performs, is entitled to full respect, existence, and the maintenance and regeneration of its vital cycles, structure, functions and evolutionary processes. Any person, community, nation or nationality may require the public authority to comply with the rights of nature. The principles enshrined in the Constitution, will be used to apply and interpret these rights, as appropriate. The State will encourage individuals, legal persons, and collective entities to protect nature and promote respect for all the elements that form an ecosystem.

Article 72. Nature is entitled to restoration. This restoration is independent of the obligation of the State and persons or companies to compensate individuals and groups that depend on affected natural systems. In cases of severe or permanent environmental impact, including those linked to the exploitation of nonrenewable natural resources, the State shall establish the most effective mechanisms to achieve the restoration, and take appropriate measures to eliminate or mitigate adverse environmental consequences.

Article 73. The State will apply precautionary and restrictive measures to activities that could lead to species extinction, destruction of ecosystems, or the permanent alteration of natural cycles. The import of organisms and organic and inorganic material that may ultimately alter the national genetic heritage is prohibited.

Article 74. Individuals, communities, peoples and nations are entitled to benefit from the environment and natural resources that allow them to live well. Environmental services are not subject to appropriation; their production, delivery, use and development are regulated by the state.