Sask Government “welcomes” decision from Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled on portions of the federal government’s environmental policies, in this case the “Impact Assessment Act”.

Five out of seven judges found most of it to be unconstitutional because it ultimately seeks to regulate activities within provincial jurisdiction.

Chief Justice Richard Wagner, writing for the majority, said the law as written is aimed at regulating activities that are provincial business, instead of being aimed at environmental effects that are within Ottawa’s power to regulate.

“This decision is nothing short of a constitutional tipping point and reasserts provinces’ rights and primary jurisdiction over natural resources, the environment and power generation,” Justice Minister and Attorney General Bronwyn Eyre said in a statement. “It should also force the federal government to reassess other areas of overreach, including capping oil and gas production and electrical generation. The IAA has stalled everything from Canadian highway and mine projects to LNG facilities and pipelines. It has thwarted investment, competitiveness and productivity across the country. This major decision will correct course.”

Premier Scott Moe added this comment in the same statement. “This should cause the federal government to rethink the many other areas where it is overstepping its constitutional competence, like electrical generation and oil and gas production.”

The government supported the government of Alberta who spearheaded the case. However, it may not be the big the two premiers are bragging about.

“This is not the win that Alberta was hoping for. The entire court — majority and minority opinions — agreed with our arguments about when the federal government can require an assessment and the information that can be considered”, Anna Johnston, staff lawyer with West Coast Environmental Law said. “Overall, we think this opinion can be a win for Canadians and the environment, but Parliament needs to step up and enact amended assessment legislation that applies to all projects with the potential to harm areas of federal jurisdiction.”

The Impact Assessment Act is now the second such piece of legislation to be thrown out by the courts. 

In 2016, the Federal Court of Appeal struck down assessment legislation passed by the Conservative government of Stephen Harper.

Read the decision here:

–With files from the Canadian Press–

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