Nature Canada

Nature Canada & West Coast Environmental Law Respond to Supreme Court Decision on Impact Assessment Act

“This is not the win Alberta was hoping for,” say environmental lawyers.

Unceded Algonquin Anishinaabe Territories, Ottawa, ON – October 13, 2023 – Today, the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) delivered its judgment on the constitutionality of the federal Impact Assessment Act (IAA), formerly known as Bill C-69.

In its decision, the Court has confirmed the federal government’s authority to carry out impact assessments on projects such as mines, pipelines and dams, so long as those projects have potential to impact areas of federal jurisdiction like fisheries and species at risk.


Anna Johnston, Staff Lawyer, West Coast Environmental Law:

“This is not the win that Alberta was hoping for. The entire Court – majority and minority opinions – agreed with our arguments about when the federal government can require an assessment and the information that can be considered. Overall, we think this opinion can be a win for Canadians and the environment, but Parliament needs to step up and enact amended assessment legislation that applies to all projects with the potential to harm areas of federal jurisdiction.”

Stephen Hazell, Emeritus Counsel, Nature Canada:

“Nature Canada’s view is that the constitutional issues identified by the court can be addressed by a handful of amendments to the Impact Assessment Act. The challenge for the federal government is to work with the provinces, Indigenous nations and consult with the public to ensure that the revised law aligns with the Court’s decision. In sum, the court has confirmed the federal government’s critical role in ensuring a safe and healthy environment for Canadians. This is a far cry from the position of the government of Alberta.”


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

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