Ottawa, October 13, 2023 — While the Supreme Court of Canada ruled this morning that parts of the federal environmental Impact Assessment Act were unconstitutional, it also laid out a pathway for the government to rectify the legislation in a way that will protect provincial jurisdiction as well as nature and people.
WWF-Canada intervened in this reference to the Supreme Court to emphasize the importance of federal involvement and accountability in matters related to the global issue of biodiversity and nature loss. Industrial development and resource extraction can pose major threats to ecosystems, and a robust and nationally consistent impact assessment regime is a necessary tool for identifying and mitigating these threats.
In reaction to this decision, WWF-Canada’s president and CEO Megan Leslie said:
“While initially disappointed that this decision could increase risks of development to nature, wildlife and people, WWF-Canada is pleased that the court reaffirmed the role of the federal government in environmental assessment regimes. Wildlife, ecosystems and climate-fuelled natural disasters like wildfires and floods do not respect provincial borders, and it is essential that the federal government have oversight — we need policies that look at the big picture and inform decisions for the good of the whole country.
Today’s decision doesn’t mean we need to go back to the drawing board. The Supreme Court gave clear direction on what is necessary to save this legislation. We urge the federal government to act quickly to amend the Impact Assessment Act to reflect this ruling. In the meantime, we urge all provincial and territorial governments to ensure that their environmental assessment legislation holds new projects to the highest standards.”
For interviews with Megan Leslie, please contact:
Rebecca Spring, senior manager communications, WWF-Canada