After spilling PCBs into a tributary of the St. Lawrence River, Hydro-Québec was charged under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). The utility responded by arguing that CEPA, the major Canadian statute regulating dangerous chemicals, was unconstitutional.
The case was eventually appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC). Acting on behalf of Pollution Probe and Great Lakes United, and together with the Canadian Environmental Law Association, we were granted leave to intervene in the case. We argued that the federal government could make environmental protection laws under its criminal law power. The SCC ruled that the federal government has the power and a duty to address environmental threats and, for the first time, that the Constitution’s criminal law power could be used to protect the environment (R. v. Hydro-Québec,  3 S.C.R. 213).