The Faces of CELA: Petri Bailey

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

I began volunteering as a pro bono student with CELA in the fall of 2019. I’m also CELA’s incoming summer student with funding from the Law Foundation of Ontario, from Bora Laskin Faculty of Law in Thunder Bay

This year, I researched a train derailment which left millions of plastic pellets drifting across Lake Superior. I looked at how polluters can be held accountable for spills, and the policy changes Canada should explore with respect to single-use plastics.

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

Anytime I fly to or from my hometown of Thunder Bay, I always ask for a window seat. For me, the North Shore of Lake Superior is such a distinct and beautiful place. I chose to get involved in this field because the law provides important tools to protect this area – and other unique places across Canada.

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

As a law student, I find the best way to learn is by doing. Volunteering with CELA has given me the chance to apply the legal concepts I have learned in class to real-life situations. My work with CELA has given me a head start in tackling some of the important social issues facing this country.

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

There are lots of pressing challenges facing Canada today. For me, one of the most critical is finding better ways to communicate. For many Canadians, environmental problems are scary. So fear, indecisiveness and division have become major barriers impeding bold climate action.

No two people are the same. A person’s education, background and life experiences shape the way they view environmental issues. Novel solutions are needed to bring more Canadians on board in tackling pollution and climate change.

How do you think we can best approach this challenge?

Canada is in a great position to be an environmental leader. As a starting point, I think that communication should center around hope and positivity. And since Canada is a diverse country, environmental messaging needs to be better adapted to the perspectives of new Canadians and underrepresented groups.

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

Thinking big is overrated! During a trip to Finland, I noticed that many (if not most) city residents walk or bike to the farmer’s market to purchase locally-produced foods. This is possible because communities are designed for pedestrians – not cars. If I were Leader of the World, I would encourage a shift to more compact, sustainable communities.

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

Last year, I bought an old film camera. Photography is an awesome way to get out and explore – even if none of my photos turn out!