Montreal, September 28, 2022 – The Centre québécois du droit de l’environnement (CQDE) today filed a motion with the Supreme Court of Canada for permission to intervene in an important case challenging the constitutional validity of the Impact Assessment Act.

In the months leading up to and following the adoption of the Act (Bill C-69) in June 2019, the CQDE  worked tirelessly with the objective of ensuring better environmental protection by strengthening the federal project assessment system.

As a reminder, on May 10, 2022, the majority of the Alberta Court of Appeal considered that the Act encroaches on provincial jurisdiction in a way that renders it invalid. If this conclusion is upheld, it is highly likely to prevent one level of government from taking action to protect the environment, when action by all levels of government is needed in this time of climate crisis.

Conversely, the CQDE is also concerned about the effect that such a decision could have on the ability of provinces, such as Quebec, to exercise their own constitutional jurisdiction and regulate projects that are carried out on their territory.

“At the heart of this matter is the balance between federal and provincial jurisdictions and, more fundamentally, the ability of each level of government to conduct rigorous and comprehensive assessments of projects to verify their impacts on their respective jurisdictions,” explains Me David Robitaille, a lawyer arguing the case on behalf of the CQDE.

“For the assessment of major projects, we can no longer afford to take steps backwards in terms of legal protection of the environment and public participation, so it is important that all levels of government play their full role in the regulation of these projects,” adds Me Marc Bishai, also a lawyer representing the CQDE before the Supreme Court.