Staff Blog

Guest Blog: So What If We Lose the Environmental Commissioner?

Background: Ontario is about to lose its independent Environmental Commissioner, as part of cuts announced by the Ford government on November 15, 2018. The details were laid out in Bill 57, an omnibus bill. The government cut three independent watchdogs all in the same announcement; Ontario’s Child Advocate, the French-Language Services Commissioner and the Environmental Commissioner, with some aspects of their work to be passed off to other agencies. The government’s stated rationale for Bill 57 was “to restore trust, transparency and accountability in government.”

Province Proposes to Abolish Ontario’s Environmental Watchdog

Ontario’s Finance Minister recently introduced Bill 57, which is omnibus legislation intended to implement the provincial government’s 2018 Fall Economic Statement.

BLOG – Chronicles from the North

Last month, CELA was excited to announce its expansion of legal services in Northern Ontario. Six weeks into the pilot project, we are happy to share what we’ve heard and how we are responding.

Guest Blog: Does the USMCA offer hope for a revitalized Commission for Environmental Cooperation?

In an earlier blog post, CELA expressed its happiness that the re-negotiated North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), known as the United States-Mexico-Canada-[Trade] Agreement (USMCA), does not include the controversial investor state dispute settlement process.

A First Look at the USMCA - There’s Reason to Celebrate

On October 1, 2018, a new trade deal was announced between Canada, the US and Mexico, replacing the current North American Free Trade Agreement with the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. In the early hours of October 1, the #USMCA twitterstorm began and with it, confirmation that ISDS - the controversial investor state dispute settlement provision in NAFTA’s Chapter 11 which allowed private companies to sue Canada, where $2.6 billion in damages have been claimed to date - had been removed from the re-negotiated agreement.

Pipelines, Environmental Assessment and the Rule of Law

The Federal Court of Appeal recently overturned the Government of Canada’s approval of Kinder Morgan’s proposal to triple the capacity of the Trans Mountain pipeline system that currently runs from Alberta to the British Columbia coast.

In a lengthy judgment, the Court ruled that the federal government did not fulfill its duty under section 35 of the Constitution Act 1982 to meaningfully consult Indigenous communities and to accommodate their concerns about the project.

CELA Goes North! Public Legal Education Presentations in Thunder Bay and Timmins

Sleeping Giant Provincial Park in Thunder Bay

Protecting the Great Lakes

This summer will be a tough time for the Great Lakes. Media in the U.S. and Canada reported that there will be a significant algae bloom in Lake Erie this year. Although it will be smaller than the one in 2017, there’s still cause for concern.

Taking Back Lake Ontario: The Gord Downie Pier Opens in Kingston

 I was one of the several hundred people who recently attended the official unveiling of the Gord Edgar Downie Pier at the newly restored Breakwater Park in Kingston.

View from Gord E. Downie Pier at Kingston’s Breakwater Park (photo by R. Lindgren).

Climate Change - How do we move forward in Ontario, local to global

In most parts of Ontario in the first week of July, the hot humid heat wave that hung over the region for days was unbearable. Many had the option of turning on our air conditioners or escaping to summer cottages for the long weekend. But for the most vulnerable among us, this was not an option. In Montreal, 53 people died from the heat.

Climate Change - How do we move forward in Ontario - Federal

I’ve prepared a series of four related blogs on the question: where do we go next on climate change action in Ontario? See the introductory blog, and the related blogs on provincial action  and local action.

Climate Change - How do we move forward in Ontario - Provincial

I’ve prepared a series of four related blogs on the question of where do we go next on climate change action in Ontario? An introductory blog, a blog on federal action, and a blog on local action.

Climate Change - How do we move forward in Ontario - Local

I’ve prepared a series of four related blogs on the question of where do we go next on climate change action in Ontario? See the introductory blog, and the blog on federal action and provincial action.

Canada’s Impact Assessment Act: Myth vs. Fact

In late June, Canada’s much-hyped Impact Assessment Act (IAA) received Third Reading in the House of Commons. The proposed law has now been referred to the Senate for review during the fall session.

Control of Toxic Substances at the Crossroads in Canada

In upholding the constitutionality of federal toxic substances law over 20 years ago, the Supreme Court of Canada reaffirmed that protection of the environment is one of the major challenges of our time.

Time to Beef Up Toxics Reduction Measures

Red tape reduction, not toxics reduction, is alive and well in amendments to regulations promulgated in April 2018 under Ontario’s Toxics Reduction Act. To understand why, it is necessary to briefly review the history of this once promising provincial environmental law and the steps that should be taken going forward to revive it.

The 2008 Discussion Paper

Accessing Environmental Justice: The 10th Anniversary of the Landmark Lafarge Decision

Gord Downie and Mark Mattson (Lake Ontario Waterkeeper) with staff from CELA, ECO and Ecojustice during a break in the 2008 Divisional Court proceedings. Photo: David McRobert.

Environmental Class Actions: The Need for Reform in Ontario

In a previous blog, CELA reviewed the public policy basis for enabling people to commence class actions in cases involving widespread harm to the environment or public health.

To date, however, it appears that relatively few environmental class actions have been brought under Ontario’s Class Proceedings Act (CPA) since the legislation was passed over 25 years ago.

The Walkerton Tragedy: Lessons Learned and Unfinished Business

In May 2000, seven people died, and thousands of people fell seriously ill, after consuming contaminated drinking water supplied by a municipal drinking water system in Walkerton, Ontario.

On the 18th anniversary of this tragedy, it is appropriate to reflect upon some of the lessons learned from this public health catastrophe, and to identify further steps that are necessary to prevent a recurrence of this event elsewhere in the province.

Assessing Canada’s Impact Assessment Act: Boon or Boondoggle?

[NOTE: This article originally appeared on The Lawyer’s Daily website published by LexisNexis Canada Inc. on April 11, 2018]

Since the 1970s, an environmental assessment process has existed at the federal level to gather information and make informed decisions about the biophysical and socio-economic impacts of diverse types of projects, such as mines, energy pipelines, and radioactive waste facilities.