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    Alberta court says Canadian environmental law unconstitutional


Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau says Ottawa will appeal the ruling.

by: Dale Lunan

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Alberta court says Canadian environmental law unconstitutional

The Alberta Court of Appeal, deciding on a referral from three provinces, handed down a decision May 10 ruling Canada’s Impact Assessment Act unconstitutional.

Alberta was supported in its challenge of the act, in place since 2019, by the provinces of Saskatchewan and Ontario and by three First Nations and the Indian Resource Council. The five-member court ruled 4-1 against the act.

“This is a historic win for the people of Alberta,” Alberta premier Jason Kenney said. “The court’s ruling that the federal government does not have constitutional authority to control provinces and territories and the development of our natural resources is a great victory for Alberta and for Canadian federalism.”

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau immediately announced in the House of Commons that the federal government would appeal the decision, setting up a showdown in the Supreme Court of Canada.

Dubbed the ‘No More Pipelines Act’, the act lists activities that would trigger a costly and lengthy federal environmental review, and allows Ottawa to consider the impacts of new resource developments on a range of issues, including climate change.

“Alberta argued, and the Court of Appeal agreed, that the federal government is needlessly overhauling a regulatory review process that is already one of the world’s best, putting jobs and investment at risk,” Kenney said. “We want to see investment grow, not driven away by unbalanced, unpredictable new rules for large-scale infrastructure projects.”

Chief Justice Catherine Fraser, writing on behalf of two others, said climate change represents an “existential threat” to Canada.

But, she wrote, “the (Impact Assessment Act) involves another existential threat – one also pressing and consequential – and that is the clear and present danger this legislative scheme presents to the division of powers guaranteed by our Constitution and, thus, to Canada itself.”