Alberta court rules Bill C-69 is federal overrreach on resource development
By Tyson Fedor / CTV News CalgaryNews
The Alberta Court of Appeal has determined that the federal government overstepped its mark with the Impact Assessment Act.
The decision on the act, previously known as Bill C-69, was made with a majority opinion from three of five justices, with an additional judge signing off on that opinion. The Honourable Chief Justice Catherine Fraser, Honourable Justice Jack Watson, J.D. Bruce McDonald found the act to be ‘a federal overreach’ and it was concurred by Justice Jo’Anne Strekaf.
Justice Sheila Greckol had the lone dissenting opinion.
Alberta had argued that the act was a “Trojan Horse” that intruded into provincial jurisdiction. Ontario, Saskatchewan, the Woodland Cree First Nation and Indian Resource Council along with oil and gas producers all supported the province’s challenge.
The Woodland Cree and Indian Resource council believes the act encroaches on the independence of First Nations Groups, supporting the use of the act by the federal government.
The federal government argued that the act focused merely on the “adverse effects within federal jurisdiction” from designated projects.
Federal Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson says the legislation is constitutional and the federal government will be appealing the decision.
“We consulted broadly with Indigenous communities, with Canadians, with industry, with legal experts from around the country,” said Wilkinson in Ottawa. “We are very confident that this is constitutional, that our position will be upheld.
“The whole point of an environmental assessment process is to have rigour, to ensure that we actually are addressing substantive environmental concerns at the very early stages, such that good projects can go ahead and projects that actually are not able to be conformed to good environmental standards, do not.
“If in fact this legislation was to not be in effect, we’re in a situation where we’re not being protective of the environment.”