Sections Update | December 2020

Sections Addressing Climate Change

December 2020

Sections Update | December 2020

A range of Sections have hosted meetings which touch upon climate change, and in particular, legislative changes in provincial and federal environmental laws. They have also held meetings to discuss the protection of the environment via legislation, as well as the role Indigenous peoples play in the development of projects that could impact the environment.

Environmental Law

The Environmental Law Section hosted a variety of meetings related to laws concerning the protection of the environment. Earlier this year, the Section executives reviewed significant environmental law decisions and developments from 2019, including the cost recovery procedures of the Environmental Management Act in relation to remediating contaminated sites. They have also more recently reviewed changes to provincial and federal environmental laws in August, where they discussed new and amended laws relating to climate change, including the Canadian Energy Regulator Act.

In addition, they hosted Robert Wickett, QC, Vice-Chair of the Environmental Appeal Board (“EAB”), to discuss his insights on practice and procedures before the EAB, an independent, quasi-judicial regulatory agency which hears appeals from certain decisions under statutes such as the Greenhouse Gas Reduction (Renewable and Low Carbon Fuels Requirement) Act, and the Water Sustainability Act, among others.

Constitutional Law/Civil Liberties

The Constitutional Law/Civil Liberties Section offered two similar meetings in both the 2019-20 and 2020-21 fiscal years concerning federalism and climate change. In 2019, the Section hosted Gareth Morley, legal counsel for the BC Ministry of Justice, who was involved in the constitutional challenge held by provinces against Canada’s Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act. In this meeting, held in-person in both Victoria and Vancouver, Gareth touched upon the need to choose between federalism and confronting climate change, mentioning references in the Saskatchewan and Ontario courts upholding federal legislation.

In the following fiscal year, Gareth Morley returned to speak on more recent references, alongside Joseph Arvay, QC, counsel for the plaintiffs in La Rose et al. v. Canada. During this meeting, the speakers discussed La Rose, a lawsuit brought by Canadian youth and dismissed by a Federal Court judge, which alleged that Canada contributes to emitting greenhouse gases that are incompatible with a stable climate.

Natural Resources Law and Aboriginal Law — Vancouver Island

The Natural Resources Law Section hosted Sandy Carpenter, Co-Founder of Canadian Regulator and Indigenous Law, to discuss reconciliation and the honour of the Crown in regulatory decision-making. They referenced cases such as Redmond v. British Columbia (Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development), 2020, and Fort McKay First Nation v Prosper Petroleum Ltd, 2020, both of which are concerned with the interests of Aboriginal peoples and their objections to development projects to take place on their territories.

In November 2019, the Aboriginal Law — Vancouver Island Section hosted a social, which featured Mark Gustafson of JFK Law to provide an overview of environmental regulatory law updates.