Executive Summary

Preliminary Data / Analysis

Highlights of Data

We used all of these methodological tools in our pilot methodology to obtain data useful towards testing our hypotheses.


Please recall our hypotheses about the effectiveness of the citizen submission process.
Our interviews revealed that virtually none of the submitters linked their participation in the Submission Process with increased environmental law enforcement. As a result, our preliminary research seems to indicate that neither the filing of a submission nor the publication of a factual record leads to greater enforcement of environmental law. The interviewee whose submission led to the publication of a Factual Record expressed the opinion that the : ‘Factual Record is useless!’
We found that there was some media coverage for most of the specific environmental issues brought up in the submissions and the factual record, but found no relationship between media coverage and enhanced enforcement.
Various forms of government resistance, such as refusing to provide the necessary information for the submission process, stalling, and the use of the government’s veto power appear to limit the effectiveness of the process.


For our second question, please recall that we hypothesized that the process should become less long and involved, and should become easier to use.
Since the Process’ inception in 1996, there have been 35 submissions, 3 of which have lead to the publication of a factual record. All of the submissions that led to the creation of a Factual Record were submitted by coalitions of NGOs.
Although the literature stressed the ‘user-friendliness’ of the process, our interviews indicated, that this was not a major concern for submitters. Regardless of the resources available to, and expertise of the submitters, none indicated that the process was challenging to use.
The preliminary data indicates instead that the most challenging aspect of using the process is the investment of time necessary. This time is required to gather data in order to make the submission. Furthermore, as was not indicated in the literature, respondents indicated that much time was required to lobby the Secretariat once the submission was filed.
Our interviews and literature review also contributed findings about key areas in which the process could become more effective.
This is a table indicating the key concerns about the CSP brought up in the literature and in the interviews.

The literature indicated the following concerns, in no particular order:
- First, Toothlessness. This refers to the fact that the Factual Record makes no sanctions, fines, or recommendations.
- Second. Timeliness. This refers to the fact that the processing of the submission may at times be so lengthy that the environmental concern brought up in the submission has become irreversible.
- Transparency. Much of the Process occurs behind closed doors.
- Autonomy of the Secretariat. This refers to the fact that the secretariat is not independent from the Council.
- User-friendliness. This refers to the ability of the average citizen to use the submission process.
Interviewee concerns, in no particular order were:
- Toothlessness
- Timeliness
- Transparency
- Time investment of submitters for lobbying the Secretariat
- Government and Council (‘Scoping.’) Scoping refers to the ability of the Council to re-interpret the issue raised in a submission. Many interviewees indicated that the Council reinterpreted their concerns to make them much narrower.

© 2002 McGill School of Environment
McGill University
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