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Defending environmental laws that protect all Canadians

Reference re Impact Assessment Act

March 4, 2020

Ecojustice intervened before the Alberta Court of Appeal and Supreme Court of Canada to uphold and defend an important environmental law that protects people across Canada, and the air, water, and land we all depend on.

Under Canadian law, protecting our environment is the shared responsibility of both federal and provincial governments. Canadians of all political stripes must work together to safeguard that environment.

In 2019, the Alberta government launched a legal challenge against the Impact Assessment Act (IAA) and its regulations. Ecojustice intervened in this challenge; however, in May 2022 the Alberta Court of Appeal found in favour of the Alberta government.

This decision was then appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada. In October 2023, the court ruled that the IAA was largely unconstitutional.

Even though the Court found the IAA was not sufficiently focused on federal jurisdiction, it confirmed that no project is immune from environmental scrutiny: “The fact that a project involves activities primarily regulated by the provincial legislatures does not create an enclave of exclusivity.”

All types of projects can and should be subject to a comprehensive federal environmental assessment to protect against harm in Canada’s areas of responsibility.

At a time when Canada is facing the looming impacts of the climate emergency, biodiversity loss and exposure to dangerous pollution, we need good environmental laws that work for everyone in Canada.

All governments, whether provincial or federal, have a responsibility to take action to address these crises.

The provinces must step up and also do their part when it comes to environmental assessments of extractive and environmentally damaging projects.

Ecojustice has a track record of supporting good environmental laws. We intervened when several provincial governments challenged the federal government’s ability to put a price on carbon pollution.

That is why we joined First Nations, Indigenous Peoples, civil society, environmental, and health groups, before the Supreme Court of Canada to uphold and defend important environmental laws that protect people across Canada, and the air, water, and land we all depend on.

Ecojustice is dedicated to fighting for environmental laws that work and deliver protections for people and the planet.

Ecojustice staff

Anna McIntosh

Josh Ginsberg

Oct 2023
An oil field with a large pump. Blue mountains are in the background. Overlaid is the faint image of rulers and a pencil.
press release

Ecojustice statement on Supreme Court decision on Impact Assessment Act

OTTAWA/TRADITIONAL, UNCEDED TERRITORY OF THE ALGONQUIN ANISHNAABEG PEOPLE — Responding to the decision from the Supreme Court of Canada on the Impact Assessment Act (IAA), Ecojustice lawyer Joshua Ginsberg said: “While we are disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision on the Impact Assessment Act, there remains a need for strong environmental assessments that work for.
Mar 2023
An oil field with a large pump. Blue mountains are in the background. Overlaid is the faint image of rulers and a pencil.
press release

Ecojustice before the Supreme Court to uphold crucial environmental assessment law

OTTAWA/TRADITIONAL, UNCEDED TERRITORY OF THE ALGONQUIN ANISHNAABEG PEOPLE – Ecojustice will appear before the Supreme Court of Canada tomorrow to uphold and defend the federal Impact Assessment Act (IAA), an important environmental law that protects people across Canada, and the air, water, and land we all depend on.
Nov 2022
An oil field with a large pump. Blue mountains are in the background. Overlaid is the faint image of rulers and a pencil.
press release

Federal impact assessment law must be upheld

OTTAWA/TRADITIONAL, UNCEDED TERRITORY OF THE ALGONQUIN ANISHNAABEG PEOPLE – Ecojustice has been granted intervenor status to appear before the Supreme Court of Canada to uphold the federal Impact Assessment Act (IAA) and its regulations.
May 2022
A large industrial complex sits against a sunset. Large smoke stacks blow smoke into the orange sky above.
press release

Alberta Court of Appeal hands down disappointing opinion on constitutionality of Canada’s Impact Assessment Act

The case will now be appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Feb 2021
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press release

Ecojustice to challenge Premier Kenney’s anti-environment agenda in court once again

Canada’s largest environmental law charity to defend federal Impact Assessment Act CALGARY/TERRITORIES OF THE BLACKFOOT AND PEOPLES OF TREATY 7, HOME TO MÉTIS NATION OF ALBERTA, REGION III  – Ecojustice lawyers will be in court this week to defend the federal Impact Assessment Act (IAA) and its regulations, the latest target of the Alberta government’s.
Feb 2021
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blog

Good environmental laws protect all Canadians

Premier Kenney’s attack on environmental protections is politically motivated This article was originally published in the Edmonton Journal on February 20, 2021 Next week the Alberta government is going to court to try and challenge the constitutionality of Canada’s newest environmental law, the Impact Assessment Act (IAA).
Feb 2021
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blog

Defending Canada’s environmental assessment law

This article was originally published by The Lawyer’s Daily (thelawyersdaily.
Mar 2020
An industrial complex with many smoke stacks in the winter. Smoke rises from the stacks pouring into the sky.
blog

Ecojustice is going back to court to stop Kenney from derailing Canada’s environmental assessment law

Ecojustice is going back to court to stop Alberta Premier Jason Kenney from derailing the product of years of hard work by supporters like you — and thousands of your fellow Canadians — to improve Canada’s environment assessment regime.
Mar 2020
An industrial complex with many smoke stacks in the winter. Smoke rises from the stacks pouring into the sky.
press release

Ecojustice to face-off against Kenney gov’t in court again

Environmental group intervening in legal proceedings to defend federal Impact Assessment Act For immediate release March 4, 2020 CALGARY – Ecojustice is intervening in another constitutional reference case brought by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, this time aimed at undermining the federal Impact Assessment Act (IAA) and its regulations.