The Alberta Court of Appeal says the federal government’s environment impact law is unconstitutional. The Alberta government, calling it a Trojan Horse, had challenged the Impact Assessment Act over what the province argued was its overreach into provincial powers.
The act, given royal assent in 2019, lists activities that trigger an impact review and allows Ottawa to consider the effects of new resource projects on a range of environmental and social issues, including climate change.
Alberta had argued the law could use those concerns to greatly expand the range of federal oversight into areas of provincial jurisdiction. Read more: Alberta to argue in court that feds’ Impact Assessment Act is unconstitutional A majority of five justices, giving their legal opinion in the 204-page document released Tuesday, sided with Alberta. “Climate change constitutes an existential threat to Canada,” Chief Justice Catherine Fraser and two others 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.” Read more: Alberta government asks Court of Appeal whether Bill C-69 is constitutional The opinion adds that legitimate concerns about the environment and climate change should not override the division of power. “If the federal government believes otherwise, it should make the case for an increase in its jurisdiction to the Canadian public.” A fourth judge signed off on that opinion with the exception of one section.