Nature Canada

Media Advisory – Environmental and Legal Experts Available for Comment on Supreme Court Impact Assessment Act Decision

Decision expected this Friday in Supreme Court of Canada reference case.

Unceded Algonquin Anishinaabe Territories, Ottawa, ON – October 12, 2023 – This Friday, October 13, the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) is expected to deliver its decision on the constitutionality of the federal Impact Assessment Act, formerly known as Bill C-69.

This long-awaited Supreme Court decision follows a non-binding opinion issued by the Alberta Court of Appeal in 2022, which found that the IAA is unconstitutional. The Government of Canada appealed that opinion, and arguments were heard at the SCC in March 2023.

West Coast Environmental Law and Nature Canada intervened in the case to defend environmental protections enshrined in the Act, and to stand up for a robust federal impact review process. Experts representing both organizations will be available for comment following the judgment.

Anna Johnston, Staff Lawyer, West Coast Environmental Law, said:

“Impact assessment is our best tool for ‘looking before we leap,’ allowing us to identify the environmental and social impacts of major projects or proposals like mines, pipelines and dams. Disasters like the Mount Polley mine disaster in BC and Imperial’s Kearl oil sands tailings spill in Alberta show what can happen when provinces have weak regulatory frameworks and the federal government takes a back seat. The Supreme Court of Canada has held time and time again that the environment is a matter of shared jurisdiction, and we need all hands on deck when it comes to protecting nature, our communities and the climate. It is our hope that the Court again recognizes the need for all governments to take a careful look at projects before they’re approved.”

Akaash Maharaj, Policy Director, Nature Canada, said:

“When governments make decisions about major industrial projects and infrastructure, the implications for nature and our communities may last generations. That’s why it’s so vital to have the proper checks and balances in place to safeguard the environment and public health, while allowing good projects to move ahead. We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will agree and find that the Impact Assessment Act is reasonable, justified, and in line with Canada’s Constitution.”


For more information, please contact:

Anna Johnston, Staff Lawyer, West Coast Environmental Law, (604) 340-2304

Stephen Hazell, Emeritus Counsel, Nature Canada, (613) 724-1908 | (613) 562-3447 x230

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