December 2018 Bulletin

Happy holidays from your friends at CELA!

Photo: VISIONS: Seeing the Aurora in a New Light by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Flickr

News & Activities


Photo: thirsty? by Bernal Saborio/Flickr

CELA opposes Bill 66 rollback of Clean Water Act

The Ontario government recently introduced Bill 66 which will enable municipalities to pass “open-for-business planning by-laws” under the Planning Act to facilitate new major development in order to create employment. However, Schedule 10 of Bill 66 provides that section 39 of the Clean Water Act, 2006 (CWA) does not apply to an open-for-business planning by-law. The CWA was passed in response to the Walkerton tragedy, and section 39 requires provincial and municipal decisions to conform to policies in CWA-approved source protection plans that address significant drinking water threats. CELA has prepared a briefing note and legal analysis explaining why Schedule 10 should be withdrawn in order to safeguard public health.

CELA’s media conference on Ontario’s Bill 57 at Queen’s Park.

Bill 57 press conference at Queen’s Park

CELA called on the provincial government to withdraw its controversial Schedule 15 of Bill 57 which proposed to eliminate the independent Office of the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO), and transfer some ECO duties to the Environment Minister and the Auditor General. We expressed our opposition to this legislative rollback at a media conference at Queen’s Park along with Ontario Nature, Friends of the Porcupine River Watershed, and the retired Deputy Environmental Commissioner of Ontario. We also outlined the groups’ fundamental concerns in CELA’s presentation to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs. Our review of Schedule 15 found that the amendments will result in considerably less accountability, transparency and oversight than has existed under the Environmental Bill of Rights for over two decades. Although Bill 57 was subsequently passed by the Legislature, Schedule 15 has not yet been proclaimed in force.

Climate change and low-income communities

Climate change is a public health emergency and disproportionately affects low-income and vulnerable communities. CELA is encouraging strong climate change action at all levels of government, with a particular focus on how proposals address the needs of low-income communities. In response to the Ontario government’s recently released Environment Plan, CELA expressed concern that its climate change proposals do not mention low-income or vulnerable communities. Following the plan’s announcement, CELA’s Theresa McClenaghan joined Environmental Defence, Green Economy Canada and Greenpeace to discuss Ontario’s new climate change proposals on Facebook live. The Environment Plan is open for public comment until Jan 28 and CELA will be providing detailed recommendations in the new year.

CELA and Environmental Defence were granted status to intervene in the upcoming Saskatchewan Court of Appeal reference to decide whether the federal carbon pricing law is constitutional. CELA, Environmental Defence and the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul have also filed for leave to intervene before the Ontario Court of Appeal Reference on the constitutionality of the federal carbon pricing law. The groups seek to address whether the Act is constitutional under two federal heads of power not adequately considered in the References: the criminal law power and the trade and commerce power. The argument of the groups supports the overall view that both Parliament and provincial legislatures have the constitutional authority to enact legislation in relation to climate change mitigation and adaptation, including carbon pricing programs.


CELA’s 2018 Annual Report

It’s been quite a year! CELA’a latest annual report can now be downloaded from our website. The report details our activities on law reform, litigation, hearings, and statutory tools as well as our public outreach and legal education work.

Amending the Basel Convention Annex on Plastics

CELA joined six other non-governmental organizations to provide input on a Norwegian proposal to amend three crucial annexes of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal (Convention). This discussion comes at a critical time when the global community initiates steps to address the growing threats from plastic pollution. We strongly recommended that Canada follow Norway’s proposal to the Chemicals and Waste Directorate (ICW) of the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change.


The Environmental Beginnings website is an archive of Ontario’s environmental protection legislation.

Environmental Beginnings website now hosted by CELA and RLEL

CELA and the Resource Library for the Environment and the Law (RLEL) are now hosting the Environmental Beginnings website. Originally a project of the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, the site was launched on the 20th anniversary of the landmark Environmental Bill of Rights. The site contains engaging interviews and stories with many of the pioneers of Ontario’s environmental protection legislation.

Extending the moratorium on water-bottling permits

CELA made a submission expressing its strong support for the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Park’s (MECP) proposal to extend the moratorium for water-bottling permits until 2020. The extension allows the ministry more time to gain an understanding of the state of Ontario’s water resources. CELA was very supportive of the ministry’s decision to establish a moratorium on water bottling permits until January 1, 2019 via O.Reg 463/16. A thorough review of the programs and policies as well as the science used to manage water-takings in Ontario is imperative and we are pleased to see the ministry undertaking this much-needed review.


Photo: Golden Waterfall by Paul Bica/Flickr


Poverty & the Law: A public interest environmental law perspective

CELA Counsel Kerrie Blaise recently gave a presentation at the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay on “Poverty & the Law: Public Interest Environmental Law Perspective.”

On the CELA Blog

Ontario’s environmental laws under attack (again)

On the same day that the Ontario government passed Bill 57, which eliminates the independent office of the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, the Ontario government proposed Bill 66, which contains dozens of actions to eliminate so-called “red tape and burdensome regulations” such as those protecting drinking water and the Ontario Greenbelt. Together, we believe these bills are the biggest and most significant environmental rollback to occur in a generation in this province. CELA counsel Rick Lindgren and Executive Director Theresa McClenaghan explain the importance of these two bills in a blog post that received extensive coverage in the media, including the Toronto Star.

Allowing nuke projects to escape federal environmental assessment

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, one of Canada’s energy regulators, is circulating a message that has the potential to undermine the fundamental principles of Canadian environmental assessment law and remove significant nuclear projects from federal environmental assessment review. CELA counsel Kerrie Blaise explains the significance of this action.

Upcoming events

Save the date! Learn from the lawyers responsible for precedent-setting case against Monsanto


Mark your calendars! CELA is working with Friends of the Earth to host events in Ottawa (January 30) and Toronto (January 31) to hear from the San Francisco-based attorneys who won a case against Monsanto. They successfully argued that their client’s cancer was linked to his occupational use of the pesticide glyphosate. The Toronto events will include a lunch-hour session on January 30 at CELA’s office (Meeting Room C, 15th floor, 55 University Avenue; light lunch provided). We will hear from the California attorneys with commentary from Canadian experts. We’ll also be hosting a public forum that evening at the Gladstone Hotel. More details coming soon!