Environment Minister Robert de Cotret announced Tuesday a "Green Plan" to safeguard the air, land, and water, as well as a new effort to work with the United States on cleaning up the Great Lakes.
But the long-awaited, $3 billion ($2.6 billion U.S.) plan was immediately criticized by opposition parties and environmentalists as falling short of a comprehensive initiative.
"This is a wish list, and not a very good one at that, glorified into a plan," Julia Langer, executive director of the Friends of the Earth, said.
The environmentalists complained the plan contained no specific spending details, a "green" tax to help pay for the environmental cleanup or an environmental bill of rights.
But de Cotret maintained the plan was a major commitment by the Conservative government to save the environment from degradation and would lead to a whole new way of thinking in Canada by industry and consumers.
He said there would likely be an agreement by year's end on an acid rain accord with the United States on cutting sulfur dioxide emissions.
The plan also calls for a rethinking of the way Canadians use its fresh water, which amounts to some 9 percent of the world's supply.
Europeans pay two to three times as much as Canadians for their water and use half as much, the report said. "The key to conserving water, however, is paying a fair price for the water we use."
The government plans by 1992 a Great Lakes Pollution Prevention Center that will serve as a focal point for research and information about the inland water system.
Some other highlights:
Five new national parks with the aim of setting aside up to 12 percent of the country as parkland within the next 10 years.
A system to monitor U.S. industry's impact on Canada's smog problem.
Tighter emission standards to be phased in for new vehicles beginning in 1994.
Establishment of a plan to prohibit ocean dumping of industrial waste and better control of ocean disposal of dredged materials.
Stabilization of carbon dioxide emissions and other greenhouse gases at 1990 levels by the year 2000.