Environment

Climate in election 2015: The time for action is now

August 27th, 2015 by Brian Iler

In 1990, Greenpeace published Global Warming: The Greenpeace Report. It’s a serious work, some 480 pages written by a host of highly qualified scientists and policy analysts.

Perusing the book now is a chilling experience: even then, the scientific evidence it sets out in detail was more than clear, and the book’s call for urgent and drastic cuts to our greenhouse gas emissions has essentially been ignored for the past 25 years.

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Fighting it out on the ice: Canadian Bar Association skates into (and then out of) huge Chevron vs Ecuadorian villagers court battle

October 30th, 2014 by Kirsten Iler

A storm of controversy erupted amongst Canadian lawyers when the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) decided to intervene in Chevron’s appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. The appeal is part of Chevron’s battle against Ecuadorian Indigenous peoples who seek to enforce a massive court judgment against the company for environmental damage in Ecuador. Amid increasing pressure, the CBA ultimately decided not to intervene. However, the event speaks to an apparent divide within the legal profession: around the relationship and importance of corporate law principles (such as the corporate veil), corporate accountability, and access to and the administration of justice.

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Federal Court finds Canadian government failed to protect species at risk

March 28th, 2014 by Laura Bowman

Recently, a number of environmental groups represented by Ecojustice brought a series of judicial reviews alleging that the federal government has unlawfully failed to protect four species due to delays: the Pacific Humpback Whale, Nechako White Sturgeon, Marbled Murrelet and Southern Mountain Caribou.

Without a recovery strategy, the species are not fully protected under the federal Species At Risk Act, which depends on the recovery strategy for some protections to kick in. All four species’ habitat lies along the controversial proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline and shipping route in northern B.C.

In the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline hearings, there were about 34 listed species at risk that the panel considered, most of which did not have protected critical habitat in a recovery strategy. In January, environmental groups started other legal proceedings dealing with endangered species and other issues specific to those hearings.

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Troubled waters: Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority wetland permitting process is questioned

January 22nd, 2014 by Laura Bowman

Could you imagine a process where a developer can get an approval to destroy a provincially significant wetland in the Lake Simcoe Watershed without anyone even knowing about it, and where the approval is virtually guaranteed?

In September 2013, the North Gwillimbury Forest Alliance (NGFA), a pressure-group of residents in Georgina, released a report by planning consultant Anthony Usher on the way the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (LSRCA) approves developments in wetlands. The report criticizes the process and the policies the LSRCA uses in granting development approvals in and around waterways.

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Moving away from the transport of dangerous goods toward safer, low-carbon solutions

December 4th, 2013 by Paula Boutis

The Lac‑Mégantic derailment in Quebec last July involved the transportation of 72 tank cars of crude oil. This derailment caused the confirmed deaths of 42 people, with five more missing and presumed dead. Approximately half the downtown core was destroyed. It is one of the most significant train disasters in Canadian history.

This event and other train derailments that have since followed have proponents of pipelines using these occasions to expound the view that pipelines are the safest way to move fossil fuels. As the argument goes, we should be allowing new pipelines and the hold‑up of their approvals will only force the transportation of dangerous goods onto a more dangerous form of transportation, rail.

On Tuesday, the Auditor General’s 2013 Fall Report looked in part at rail safety. But it did not specifically look at the Lac‑Mégantic accident or any other rail accidents. For that, we must go back to a December 2011 report by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development.

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When in doubt, report: Castonguay Blasting upheld at SCC

October 21st, 2013 by Laura Bowman

Last week the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously upheld the Court of Appeal’s decision in the Castonguay Blasting case, which I have previously written about.  Despite numerous critics of the Court of Appeal’s decision from the environmental law bar, the Supreme Court made the right decision and upheld the Court of Appeal’s ruling that all discharges of contaminants are reportable under the Ontario Environmental Protection Act.

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