Faces of CELA – Amanda Montgomery

What is your role and how long have you been involved with CELA?

I started as the articling student at CELA in July 2019 and will be staying on at CELA as part-time counsel until October 2020. But I have been orbiting CELA for about 20 years: I have taken courses with Paul Muldoon and David Estrin, and worked with former CELA articling students.

What inspired you to get involved in environmental law and public policy?

Growing up in Mississauga, watching farms and forests disappear under roads and subdivisions, brought me to environmentalism at an early age. Later, during undergrad, I met a former CELA articling student in Peru, an encounter that planted the seed of environmental law, although it would be another 15 years before I actually went to law school.

What’s the most rewarding part of working with CELA?

By the time people get in touch with CELA for support, many of them have been dealing with an environmental issue for some time. Often the issue is very important to them, even personal, and in many instances, they have already sought out answers to no avail. The most rewarding moments are those when I am able to support these folks with information, explanations or referrals that help them to move forward when they were feeling stuck, abandoned or ignored.

What do you think is Canada’s biggest environmental challenge today?

The climate crisis or, really, the numerous interrelated environmental crises caused by global warming.

How do you think we can best approach this challenge?

What gives me hope is that there isn’t only one way address the climate crisis and that addressing the crisis would create exciting possibilities for a more just, sustainable world. Indeed, the only way to mitigate and adapt to climate change is to make many changes on many fronts. We can cut our GHG emissions and increase carbon sinks by doing many things, from green energy generation, public transportation and land use planning, to the less-obvious approaches, like nature-based solutions, food systems shifts and poverty reduction.

If you were the Leader of the World, what environmental law or policy would you implement?

There are many much-needed laws and policies I would like to see – but whatever legislation was implemented, I would want to make sure that it was meaningfully enforceable and non-regressive.

When you’re not working on environmental issues, what do you like to do?

I love hanging out with my ten-year old, hiking, gardening, reading, running and birdwatching. Because the world has enough real tragedy and drama, I only watch comedies. And, against my better judgment, I am a Toronto Football Club fan.