Posts by Paula Boutis

Indigenous rights and the duty to consult

January 31st, 2013 by Paula Boutis and Jessica Weizenbluth

On January 8, 2013, Frog Lake First Nation and Mikisew Cree First Nation, through their respective Chiefs, launched judicial review cases in the Federal Court. They are challenging the passage of the now infamous federal government omnibus budget bills, Bill C‑38 (Jobs, Growth and Long‑term Prosperity Act, S.C. 2012, c. 19); and Bill C‑45 (Jobs and Growth Act, 2012, S.C. c.31).

Other Canadians who may oppose these bills can only express their displeasure with them at the ballot box. With Canada’s first‑past‑the‑post electoral system, and a significant fracturing of the centre and centre‑left, it seems like an uphill battle for the rest of the country to challenge these laws, widely considered to be anti‑democratic. For all the efforts of multiple environmental organizations and the actions of the opposition in the House of Commons (perhaps most poignantly, member of Parliament Elizabeth May), there’s not a whole lot the rest of us can do.

Enter, First Nations.

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A small victory: decision grants broad rights to participate in environmental reviews, but changes to scope of EAs and cuts will hamper access, result in less thorough reviews

January 17th, 2013 by Paula Boutis and Jessica Weizenbluth

Last November Laura Bowman wrote a blog post about Alberta case law which might shed some light on how “interested party” status under the new federal Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA 2012) might be interpreted, particularly as it relates to who is deemed to be “directly affected”.   To have a right to participate in hearings under CEAA, parties must establish they are an “interested party”, and to be an interested party, the party must either be “directly affected by the carrying out of the designated project” or have “relevant information or expertise”.

Subsequent to Laura’s post, we learned of a decision of a Federal Review Panel (the Panel) constituted under CEAA which explored this question.

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