On Friday, the Supreme Court of Canada issued an opinion on the constitutionality of the federal government’s Impact Assessment Act (IAA), formerly known as Bill C-69. The ruling was part of a “reference case,” which involves the provincial and federal governments asking the courts for advisory opinions.
While the opinion is technically non-binding, it will likely send the federal government back to the drawing board. At the very least, they will have to put together a suite of amendments to bring the Act into conformity with the court’s opinion.
The IAA was designed to ensure that environmental and social issues were taken into account during the approval process of major projects such as pipelines, power plants, mines and other significant investments, while attempting to add some predictability and clarity.
The Supreme Court, in a 5-2 split, indicated that if it were to rule on the Act, it would uphold most of it; however, the Act likely oversteps the federal government’s jurisdiction within provincial boundaries. At the same time, the ruling suggests those issues need to be taken into consideration and the federal government has jurisdiction across provincial borders and internationally.
The reference to the Supreme Court was made by the Alberta Government under then Premier Jason Kenney, in which he dubbed the new IAA “the no more pipelines Act”
There are currently 23 projects in the federal impact assessment process under the IAA, according to the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada.
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For more information and insights about what these developments mean for Canada’s political landscape, please contact:
Brian Gilbertson – Senior Strategy Advisor, Ottawa
Tara Bingham – Vice-President
To learn more about Prairie Sky Strategy, please visit our website.