Supreme Court rules environmental impact legislation largely unconstitutional – by Joel Dryden (CBC News Calagary – October 13, 2023)

Majority of top court agreed that act’s ‘designated projects’ scheme exceeds bounds of federal jurisdiction

Canada’s top court has delivered a highly anticipated judgment, writing in a majority opinion that Ottawa’s Impact Assessment Act (IAA) is largely unconstitutional. The IAA, previously known as Bill C-69, allows federal regulators to consider the potential environmental and social impacts of various resource and infrastructure projects. It was enacted in 2019.

The IAA has long been controversial among conservative politicians in Alberta, including former premier Jason Kenney, who frequently referred to it as the “no more pipelines act.”

Writing for the majority in a 5-2 decision, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada Richard Wagner said the process set forth in Sections 81 to 91 of the IAA were constitutional and could be separated out.

Those sections involve projects carried out or financed by federal authorities on federal lands, or outside Canada, and therefore fall under federal jurisdiction. Those provisions were not challenged as unconstitutional. However, Wagner wrote that the balance of the scheme, involving “designated projects,” was unconstitutional.

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