The reaction was fast and furious to the Supreme Court of Canada ruling much of the Impact Assessments Act, previously known as Bill C-69, and more derisively as the “No More Pipelines Act,” is unconstitutional. It’s a ruling that’s nothing less than shocking from a Supreme Court that has almost entirely adopted a left-wing agenda.

Government of Canada

Statement released by Minister of Energy and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault, via X:

Four years ago, the Impact Assessment Act came into force to address the concerns the Government of Canada heard about the federal approval process for major projects like oil and gas pipelines, mines, hydroelectric dams, ports and nuclear facilities. Specifically, the Impact Assessment Act responded to the need for an open, transparent and predictable process that supports development while protecting the environment and upholding the rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Impact Assessment Act delivered a regulatory framework that enables cooperation with provincial and Indigenous partners to serve the public interest and ensure sustainable prosperity for current and future generations of Canadians in every province.

Today, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, and the Honourable Arif Virani, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, issued the following statement on the Supreme Court of Canada’s opinion on the constitutionality of the Impact Assessment Act:

“Today, we accept the Court’s opinion, which provides new guidance on the Impact Assessment Act, while explicitly affirming the right of the Government of Canada to put in place impact assessment legislation and collaborate with the provinces on environmental protection.

“The Government of Canada developed the Impact Assessment Act to create a better set of rules that respect the environment, Indigenous rights and ensure projects get assessed in a timely way. We remain committed to these principles. We are heartened that the Supreme Court of Canada affirmed our role on these core principles. We will now take this back and work quickly to improve the legislation through Parliament.

“We will continue to build on 50 years of federal leadership in impact assessments. We respect the role of the Supreme Court in Canada’s democracy and, as such, we will follow the guidance of the Court and collaborate with the provinces and Indigenous groups to ensure an impact assessment process that works for all Canadians.

“Our immediate priority will be to provide guidance to our many stakeholders and Indigenous partners to ensure as much predictability as possible for projects affected by this opinion. We understand the importance of timeliness in determining a path forward. The Government of Canada wants to ensure clarity and certainty for investment in the projects this country needs. We are committed to address this promptly and continue to make Canada an attractive and predictable place to invest in good, sustainable projects as we create and protect middle class jobs and advance on the path of reconciliation.”

 

 

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Government of Saskatchewan

From Premier Scott Moe, posted on social media:

“The Supreme Court today ruled that the federal government “overstepped its constitutional competence” and the federal Impact Assessment Act is unconstitutional. This should cause the federal government to rethink the many other areas where it is overstepping its constitutional competence, like electrical generation and oil and gas production.”
More broadly, the Saskatchewan government put out this press release:

Saskatchewan welcomes the Supreme Court of Canada’s (SCC) 5-2 ruling against the federal government’s environmental Impact Assessment Act (IAA), formerly Bill C-69.

“This decision is nothing short of a constitutional tipping point and reasserts provinces’ rights and primary jurisdiction over natural resources, the environment and power generation,” Justice Minister and Attorney General Bronwyn Eyre said. “It should also force the federal government to reassess other areas of overreach, including capping oil and gas production and electrical generation. The IAA has stalled everything from Canadian highway and mine projects to LNG facilities and pipelines. It has thwarted investment, competitiveness and productivity across the country. This major decision will correct course.”

The IAA received royal assent in 2019. In 2022, the Alberta Court of Appeal (in a 4-1 majority) held that the IAA was unconstitutional, violated the division of powers between Ottawa and the provinces, and took a “wrecking ball” to exclusive provincial jurisdiction under Section 92 and 92A of the Constitution Act, 1867. The federal government appealed the decision to the SCC.

Last March, Saskatchewan was part of the constitutional intervention, along with seven other provinces, before Canada’s top court, arguing that the IAA had exceeded federal jurisdiction.

The majority recognized that the IAA is a clear example of federal overreach. Specifically, the Supreme Court majority held that the IAA’s designated projects scheme, by which federal authorities could permanently put a project on hold was an “unconstitutional arrogation of power by Parliament” and “clearly overstepped the mark.” The majority also found that the Act “grants the decision-maker a practically untrammeled power to regulate projects qua projects.”

In 2023, Saskatchewan passed The Saskatchewan First Act to counter the federal government’s attempts to interfere in matters of provincial jurisdiction. The Act came into force on September 15, 2023.

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Conservative Party of Canada
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre addressed the ruling during a press conference:

“And after eight years of Trudeau, we cede our energy market to dictators and terrorists.

“Today we learned that the Supreme Court of Canada has found Justin Trudeau is no new pipeline, anti-resource law un constitutional. Yes, Justin Trudeau, with the help of the NDP, has violated the constitutional rights of Canadians to develop their own natural resources. He has blocked natural gas liquefaction facilities. He has blocked lithium, cobalt and other mines. He has prevented Canadians from producing resources and bringing home powerful paychecks. He’s done it all to appeal to a radical NDP agenda that wants to leave all of our resources in the ground and all the money in the pockets of dictators.

“Just yesterday, we learned that after Trudeau said that there was “no case for LNG liquefaction facilities,” the Government of Qatar signed a deal with brands to sell 3.5 million tonnes of natural gas every year. Money that can come to Canadians. We have 1,300 trillion cubic feet of natural gas right beneath our feet, yet we don’t export a single cubic foot overseas, because Trudeau blocked all 18 liquefaction facilities.

“What does this mean? Well, Qatar gets the money, and we don’t. And what is Qatar do with its money they fund Hamas, Qatar is one of the lead sponsors of Hamas violence. So I want the money to go to welders and pipefitters in British Columbia, and in Newfoundland and Labrador. Justin Trudeau has that money going to Hamas.

“Good news is that the Supreme Court has found Justin Trudeau and the NDP broke the Constitution and violated our rights. With their anti development law Bill C-69. A Poilievre government will repeal this law entirely and replace it with one that consults First Nations, protects our pristine environment, but gets jobs approved, so that we can bring home beautiful, powerful paychecks to this country. Let’s bring it home.”

Conservative Energy Critic Shannon Stubbs, MP for Lakeland (Alberta), which includes the Alberta half of Lloydminster, tweeted:

“Overall the Supreme Court of Canada decision is devastating for the Trudeau Liberals. It ruled that Bill C-69 is largely unconstitutional and highlights all the concerns about overreach, jurisdictional clarity, the project list, and a negative impact on many indigenous communities, that Conservatives pointed out repeatedly during debate on Bill C 69, and many times since. More to come.”

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Government of Alberta
Premier Danielle Smith posted on X:
“Alberta wins! Canada wins! I’ll have more to say live at 11:30am.”

CAPP
From the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) CEO Lisa Baiton:

“CAPP is currently reviewing the decision. As an intervener in this process, we agreed with the Alberta Court of Appeal that the provinces are best positioned to review and regulate resource development projects within their own borders, and we applaud the clear decision from the Supreme Court of Canada today. We are pleased that this decision affirms the roles of each level of government. Regulatory certainty and efficiency are key to facilitating natural resources projects that are in the interests of Canada. In the spirit of the Court’s call for cooperation, CAPP looks forward to collaborating with both the federal and provincial governments to ensure that projects in the national interest – those reinforcing energy security, providing lower emissions energy, and maintaining affordability to Canadians – will proceed in a timely manner.”

CAPP was an intervener in the reference case before the Supreme Court of Canada regarding the Impact Assessment Act. CAPP’s Factum can be found here.

Canadian Taxpayers Federation

The CTF were official interveners at the Supreme Court.

“The Supreme Court’s decision is a huge win for Canadian taxpayers and resource workers,” said Franco Terrazzano, CTF Federal Director. “This means the feds can’t use this law to stop premiers like Scott Moe or Danielle Smith or François Legault from developing resources to create jobs for people in their provinces.”

The CTF’s lawyer argued the law blurs federal and provincial accountability for resource development and creates duplication within federal and provincial bureaucracies.

In 2019, the CTF calculated that politicians blocking pipelines could cost taxpayers $12.8 billion between 2013 and 2023, by reducing the federal government’s revenue.

“When governments stop resource development, taxpayers pay,” Terrazzano said. “We need to be able to develop Canadian resources to create jobs and pay for hospitals, schools and lower taxes.

“Today is a great day for taxpayers and resource workers.”

 

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The Supreme Court rules the federal impact assessment scheme is largely unconstitutional: ruling