Alberta’s top court says Ottawa’s environmental assessment law is unconstitutional, arguing it undermines Canada’s division of powers and could effectively place provinces in an “economic chokehold” by regulating their natural resources.Like the recognition of Journeyman status province to province before Red Seal (?) or the pipeline access squabbling with BC & Quebec towards Saskatchewan & Alberta (?) or the retaliatory reaction towards BC by Alberta for BC wine (?) or the whole “West Coast pipeline bills that don’t apply to the East Coast or the St Lawrence” so it only punishes Saskatchewan & Alberta but not NewFoundLand or oil imports to Eastern Canada? That sort of thing? Like the Canadian Wheat Pool but not similar laws on predominantly Quebec or Ontario Agricultural produce?
Four of five Alberta Court of Appeal judges declared the Impact Assessment Act, which Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has derided the “no more pipelines law,” unconstitutional. One judge concluded that the assessment regime is a valid exercise of federal authority.
The ruling, which is part of a constitutional reference case, is not binding and has no immediate effect on the law, but it could be appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.
The law, formerly known as Bill C-69, is one of several federal policies that Mr. Kenney has criticized as an attack on his province and its oil sector, and he promised a legal challenge in in the 2019 election campaign. He also launched a similar constitutional reference case to challenge the federal carbon tax, along with similar cases in Saskatchewan and Ontario, but the Supreme Court of Canada ultimately ruled the carbon pricing system was valid.
The 200-page opinion comes nearly three years after the law received royal assent in June, 2019. It allows the federal government to consider the impacts of new resource projects on issues such as climate change, social impacts and gender parity. (?)
In its legal arguments, the Alberta government described the law as a “Trojan Horse”that attempts to override provincial powers through a back door, thus eroding control over oil and gas development. Ontario and Saskatchewan also joined the case in support of Alberta.
“The federal government’s invocation of concerns about the environment and climate change that all provincial governments and Canadians share is not a basis on which to tear apart the constitutional division of powers,” says the majority decision released on Tuesday.
“This legislative scheme allows the federal government to essentially render worthless the natural resources of individual provinces by stopping their development. If upheld, the (act) would permanently alter the division of powers and forever place provincial governments in an economic chokehold controlled by the federal government.”
Alberta’s top court rules Ottawa’s environmental assessment law is unconstitutional — The Globe and Mail
The Alberta Court of Appeal ruling is not binding and has no immediate effect on the law, but it could be appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada
Alberta Justice Sheila Greckol was the lone judge to side with the federal government on the Impact Assessment Act, saying it helps to regulate projects within federal jurisdiction caused by the physical activities or designated projects across the country.
“Now is not the time to abandon these tools or, worse yet, to give credence to the kind of ‘Trojan horse’ metaphor advanced by Alberta and Saskatchewan that, in likening Canada to a foreign invading army deceptively breaching out protective walls, only fuels suspicion and pits one level of government against another,” wrote Justice Greckol.
During the carbon tax cases, the Alberta Court of Appeal was the only one out of three provincial-level courts to rule the carbon pricing system unconstitutional. In a 6-3 ruling in March of last year, the Supreme Court of Canada determined Ottawa has the authority to impose a minimum price on greenhouse gas emissions across the country.