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press release

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

February 22, 2021

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 anti-environment agenda.

The Alberta government is challenging the constitutionality of the IAA, passed in 2019 after an exhaustive cross-country consultation process, on grounds that it represents an overreach of federal powers on provincial matters.

In their submissions, however, lawyers from Ecojustice – Canada’s largest environmental law charity – will speak to how Canadian law affirms that environmental protection is the shared responsibility of the federal and provincial governments.

Their submissions will further highlight that the Act is balanced legislation that is the product of collaboration by many Canadians of many backgrounds.

The IAA improves upon previous iterations of environmental assessment legislation, which failed to provide a credible process for decision-making on industrial projects with serious environmental impacts. The IAA brings important issues to light early in the planning phase and improves transparency around decision-making – all of which can head off the threat of future litigation.

This lawsuit is the latest in a string of attacks on good environmental laws and protections led by the Alberta government.

The Alberta government has already gone to the Supreme Court of Canada to challenge federal carbon pricing legislation. Two weeks ago, it was in court to defend its so-called “public inquiry” into environmental groups calling for climate action.

David Khan, Ecojustice lawyer said:

“With this lawsuit, the Kenney government hasn’t just pitted Albertans against their fellow Canadians, it is undermining environmental protections that benefit everyone.

“At a time when Canada is facing the looming impacts of a climate emergency, massive loss of biodiversity and dangerous pollution, we need good environmental laws like the Impact Assessment Act that works for all Canadians.

“Ecojustice is committed to standing up to the likes of Premier Kenney, including going to court to defend laws that protect people and nature.”

Joshua Ginsberg, Ecojustice lawyer said:

“Many people – including Indigenous peoples, Ecojustice lawyers, members of the public and even industry groups – worked with the federal government and parliamentarians to shape the Impact Assessment Act into a balanced law that protects the air, land, and water we all depend on.

“The Act clearly defines the criteria for whether a project, particularly its impacts on matters that fall under federal jurisdiction like fish, oceans, and migratory birds, are in the public interest. The law also mandates consideration of Indigenous rights, sustainability, environmental obligations, cumulative impacts and mitigation. These are improvements over previous environmental assessment laws.

“The Alberta government cannot be permitted to thwart this progress and undermine the protections offered to Canadians by the IAA.”

Ecojustice uses the power of the law to defend nature, combat climate change, and fight for a healthy environment. Its strategic, public interest lawsuits and advocacy lead to precedent-setting court decisions and law and policy that deliver lasting solutions to Canada’s most urgent environmental problems. As Canada’s largest environmental law charity, Ecojustice operates offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, and Halifax.