Submission ID: SEM-04-007
Party concerned: Canada
Date filed: November 3, 2004
Submission Status: Closed
Latest Update: December 6, 2012
The final factual record was publicly released.
Summary of the matter addressed in the submission:
The Submitter asserts that Canada, and more specifically the province of Quebec, is failing to effectively enforce articles 96.1 and 96.2 of Quebec’s “Regulation respecting the Quality of the Atmosphere” (Règlement sur la qualité de l’atmosphère-RQA) and articles 19.1, 20 and 51 of the Quebec Environment Quality Act (Loi sur la qualité de l’environnement-LQE) in connection with emissions of hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides from post-1985 light vehicle models. The Submitter estimates that at least 600,000, or 16 percent, of the approximately 4 million light vehicles in Quebec from model years later than 1985 do not comply with articles 96.1 and 96.2 of the RQA and article 51 of the LQE. The Submitter asserts that in the nineteen years since these provisions came into force, the government of Quebec has initiated fewer than ten prosecutions in regard to these alleged violations. The Submitter also claims that Quebec has not assigned responsibility for the enforcement of these provisions to any government department; has not made budget allocations for their enforcement; and has not provided police officers with equipment and training required for compliance monitoring. The Submitter contends that it is widely known (as reflected in international accords that Canada has entered into, and as recommended by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment) that the only way to ensure effective enforcement of this legislation is through the establishment of a mandatory automobile inspection and maintenance program that would apply to the whole fleet of automobiles in Quebec, on a sufficiently frequent basis (for example, an inspection every year or two). The Submitter asserts that “today, more than 19 years after articles 96.1 and 96.2 of the RQA took effect, and after more than 15 years of studies, reports, consultations and promises, the Quebec government and its Environment Ministry are still failing to effectively enforce these laws and are still failing to act on their promise to put in place a mandatory biannual inspection and maintenance program for light vehicles three years old or older.” The AQLPA asserts that this alleged failure has considerable negative impacts on the environment and public health, and that carbon monoxide emissions from cars that do not comply with the RQA have poisoned people and caused at least one death in Quebec.
Summary of the response provided by the Party:
In the response to the submission, the government of Quebec contends that the anti-tampering provisions cited by the Submitter date back to the introduction onto the market of catalytic converters, which are only compatible with unleaded gasoline. According to Quebec, in the past, the lower price of leaded gasoline prompted numerous vehicle owners to remove or modify their catalytic converters in order to use leaded gasoline, but this problem was in large part solved by the ban on leaded gasoline that took effect in 1990, followed by the introduction of fuel injection and car engine computers. Also in 1990, the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment adopted the Federal Smog Management Plan, which focused on the development of motor vehicle inspection and maintenance programs (MVIMP). Thereafter, employeess of the Quebec Environment Ministry (ministère de l’Environnement du Québec-MENV) began the process-still ongoing-of designing a MVIMP for Quebec. In the response, Quebec also mentions that MVIMP design s must take into account socio-economic and technical issues. Quebec asserts that it wants to start by dealing with pollution from heavy vehicles and that it has authorized the drafting of a regulation in this regard. With respect to the enforcement of the provisions cited by the Submitter, Quebec states that it found one prosecution dating from 1998. Regarding roadside inspections, Quebec states that there are no applicable legislative provisions allowing for random vehicle checks, and it mentions that the courts have ruled that random checks may constitute an illegal detention under the Canadian and Quebec charters of rights and freedoms. As regards inspecting parked cars, in the absence of evidence pointing to the existence of a ring that removes or modifies an anti-pollution devices, Quebec states that it would have to send inspectors into garages chosen at random, and it maintains that this would not result in a significant number of convictions. Quebec states further that beyond strict judicial enforcement of the law, the MENV has carried out awareness raising, educational and information activities, and has monitored the state of the automobiles on Quebec’s roads (two inspection campaigns in 1988-89; smaller scale inspection clinics (no details); and a voluntary campaign in 1997-98).
Names and citations of the environmental laws in question:
Articles 96.1 and 96.2 of Quebec's "Regulation respecting the Quality of the Atmosphere" (Règlement sur la qualité de l'atmosphère - RQA) and articles 19.1, 20 and 51 of the Quebec Environment Quality Act (Loi sur la qualité de l'environnement - LQE) in connection with emissions of hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides from post-1985 light vehicle models.
Quebec Association Against Air Pollution (Association québécoise de lutte contre la pollution atmosphérique - AQLPA)
The Secretariat received a submission and began a preliminary analysis of it under the guidelines.
Acknowledgement - Communication to Submitter(s) authored by Secretariat on 04/11/2004
Submission - Submission authored by Submitter(s) on 03/11/2004
The Secretariat determined that the submission met the Article 14(2) criteria and requested a response from the concerned government Party.
Determination - Secretariat Determination under Article 14 (1) and 14 (2) authored by Secretariat on 03/12/2004
The Secretariat received a response from the concerned government Party and began considering whether to recommend a factual record.
Party Response - Response from the Party under Article 14 (3) authored by Canada on 01/02/2005
Acknowledgement - Other document authored by Secretariat on 02/02/2005
The Secretariat informed Council that the Secretariat considers that the submission warrants development of a factual record.
Recommendation - Secretariat Notification to Council under Article 15(1) authored by Secretariat on 05/05/2005
The Council voted to instruct the Secretariat to develop a Factual Record.
Resolution - Council decision concerning the development of a Factual Record authored by Council on 14/06/2006
The Secretariat placed a work plan on its web site or otherwise made it available to the public and stakeholders.
Workplan - Overall workplan for Factual Record authored by Secretariat on 05/07/2006
The Secretariat posted a request for information relevant to the factual record on its web site.
Secretariat Information Request - Secretariat request for information for Factual Record authored by Secretariat on 01/09/2006
The Secretariat submitted a draft factual record to Council, for a 45-day comment period on the accuracy of the draft.
The Secretariat received comments from Mexico.
The Secretariat received comments from Canada.
The Secretariat submitted a final factual record to Council for Council's vote on whether to make the final factual record publicly available.
Council voted to instruct the Secretariat to make the final factual record publicly available.
Resolution - Council decision on whether the factual record will be made publicly available authored by Council on 03/12/2012
The final factual record was publicly released.
Final Factual Record - Final Factual Record authored by Secretariat on 09/11/2012