Fighting for Environmental Assessment in Canada

What kind of Canada do you want? One that prioritizes industrial development over
people, or one that finds innovative ways to grow its economy in balance with nature?

If you’re interested in environmental law and environmental justice then you’re probably aware of the fantastic work done by Ecojustice. It was 1990 when they started “leading the environmental fight” in Canada under the Sierra Legal Defense Fund banner. That’s 25 years of successful “groundbreaking” litigation representing community groups, non-profit organizations, First Nations, and individual Canadians. Through their efforts they have “secured many precedent-setting legal victories that protect wildlife and habitats, strengthen environmental policy, and hold polluters to account” which I encourage you to read about in their special “Victories Report.”

They are currently in the process of filing an application to the Supreme Court of Canadaseeking leave to appeal a Federal Court of Appeal decision that sets a damaging precedent for the future of environmental assessment law in Canada.” This ruling allows regulators to “avoid careful consideration of serious environmental and human health impacts associated with a plan to build new nuclear reactors at the Darlington site on Lake Ontario — including the consequences of a major nuclear accident — during the project’s environmental assessment.”

In 1992 Ecojustice successfully intervened before the Supreme Court regarding a proposed mega-dam on Alberta’s Oldman River. This was the “first public environmental victory in Canada’s Supreme Court” and it established a precedent requiring federal environmental assessment for most major industrial projects across the country. As Anne Casselman reported in 2011: “It sent a strong signal from the nation’s highest court, … Not only were environmental issues serious, but citizens going to court to defend those issues was a perfectly legit and valid activity.”

Ecojustice is funded entirely through charitable donations so you might consider supporting their work including this recent appeal to the SCC. And if your a lawyer interested in this area of the law Ecojustice is seeking staff lawyers in both their Toronto and Ottawa offices.

Comments are closed.