​Advocacy groups, First Nations to weigh in on Alberta environmental review case

New interveners have been added to the challenge to Bill C-69. Image: JWN

Alberta’s top court is allowing a dozen submissions to be heard from advocacy groups and First Nations in the province's constitutional challenge to Ottawa's revamped environmental assessment rules.

Alberta's United Conservative government has argued no new pipelines would be built under the Impact Assessment Act, part of the contentious Bill C-69.

It filed its challenge to the Alberta Court of Appeal last fall asking whether Ottawa was within its authority in imposing the new regulations.

Justice Patricia Rowbotham said submissions from six interveners would be allowed on Alberta’s side, along with another five in support of the federal government.

She also granted intervener status to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, which says it does not support either party.

Ottawa challenged the taxpayer group's application, as well as a joint application on the Alberta side from the Independent Contractors and Business Association and Alberta Enterprise Group. Rowbotham decided both should be heard.

The other interveners on Alberta's side are: Woodland Cree First Nation; Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers; Canadian Energy Pipeline Association; Explorers and Producers of Canada; and Indian Resource Council.

Interveners for Ottawa are: The Canadian Environmental Law Association, Environmental Defence Canada and Mining Watch Canada jointly; Nature Canada; Ecojustice; Mikisew Cree First Nation and Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation.

The governments of Ontario and Saskatchewan are also intervening.

In a news release, Ecojustice called the Impact Assessment Act a “balanced, hard fought” piece of legislation that was the product of much collaboration.

“We're arguing that the Impact Assessment Act and its regulations are constitutional and that they're a proper exercise of federal jurisdiction over their part of the environment,'' Ecojustice lawyer Joshua Ginsberg said in an interview.

No hearing date has been set for the case, but Ginsberg anticipates it will be some time in the fall.

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