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press release

Ecojustice statement on Supreme Court decision on Impact Assessment Act

October 13, 2023

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 everyone.

“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.  

“It is important that Canada moves forward with other important environmental priorities, including an oil and gas emissions cap, a thermal coal export ban, biodiversity legislation and a ban on single-use plastic.

“Ecojustice remains committed to working alongside Indigenous Peoples and communities across Canada to respond to the Court’s concerns about the IAA and make sure that Canada has an environmental assessment law that works for everyone.

“Strong environmental laws are crucial to protect the health and wellbeing of the planet.

“All governments, including federal and provincial, have a responsibility to take action to fight climate change, the massive loss of biodiversity, and dangerous pollution impacting communities. 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 environmental laws that protect communities and our environment. 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.