October 2018 Bulletin

Photo: Haliburton: Light, temperature, sugar and pigments by Peter Morgan/Flickr

News & Activities

Canada bans asbestos


Photo: Asbestos mine in Asbestos, Québec by Bryn Pinzgauer/Flickr

As of December 30, 2018, Canada will join more than 55 countries that have banned the use of asbestos and asbestos-containing products. This regulation will help prevent asbestos exposure and protect the health of Canadians. “We commend the government of Canada for taking this critically important step to radically reduce future exposure of Canadians, especially workers, to the harms of asbestos,” says Theresa McClenaghan, CELA’s Executive Director and Counsel.

Strengthening the federal Oceans Protection Plan

CELA submitted recommendations on the federal government’s discussion paper exploring potential legislative amendments to strengthen marine environmental protection and response. We made more than 20 specific recommendations to improve the proposed regulations such as enhancing marine ecosystem protection, strengthening environmental response, modernizing Canada’s ship-source oil pollution fund, and supporting research and innovation.


Photo: Old Tree by Billy Wilson/Flickr

Keeping the Great Lakes Compact strong

CELA and other environmental organizations in the United States and Canada wrote to the Joint Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Regional Body and Compact Council Procedures Update Team to comment on revisions to the procedural rules for reviewing diversion requests. In particular, the groups asked for a punitive costs rule, which would require appellants of diversion decisions to risk having to share the cost of the logistics of the appeal (hotels, travel, court reporter) to be removed. The groups also stressed that the rules need to be strengthened to allow for better public participation in the review process, including by hosting hearings in each Great Lakes jurisdiction.

Limiting plastic pollution in Canada

Several organizations including CELA followed up on our request last June to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to add single-use plastics, microplastics and microfibers to the Priority Substances List under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. The deadline for a response to our initial request expired in September 2018, and no response was received. Eliminating plastic pollution in the environment is of the highest importance and we are concerned that we have received neither a response nor any explanation for the delay.

CELA’s submission on Bill 4 of the Cap and Trade Revocation Act

CELA provided comments to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks on Bill 4, Cap and Trade Cancellation Act. CELA opposed the cancellation of the cap and trade program. CELA provided recommendations for a new climate change mitigation and adaptation plan that would include enforceable greenhouse gas reduction targets, transparent and frequent progress reports, and programs to assist low-income and vulnerable communities in transitioning to a low-carbon economy and dealing with the impacts of climate change.


Photo: October Sky by Chris/Flickr

Amending the Canadian Environmental Protection Act

Along with over 30 partner organizations, CELA submitted proposed amendments to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act  to the federal ministers of environment and health this month. The accompanying letter to the ministers from the groups noted that the amendments should be introduced during this session of Parliament and could contribute to control of toxic substances, including carcinogenic and endocrine disrupting substances, which pose serious risks to human health and the environment.

Improving the Small Modular Reactor Licensing Guide

CELA responded to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s (CNSC) draft RegDoc-1.1.5 Licence Application Guide: Small Modular Reactor Facilities. We raised the concern that it was premature for the CNSC to seek comments on the licensing of SMRs when public input on their acceptability for use in Canada, generally, had not occurred. We also critiqued the closed-door nature of the SMR vendor review process and recommended discussions about SMR development and deployment be publicly transparent.


Photo: Bowing out with grace by Jon Fingas/Flickr

Comments on nuclear disaster recovery guidelines

CELA responded to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s consultation on Emergency Management and Fire Protection Volume II: Framework for Recovery After a Nuclear Emergency. Our recommendations focused on the need for resiliency and adaptation to inform disaster recovery action. CELA noted that resiliency not only reduces vulnerability in the event of an accident, but increases capacity to respond to ‘surprise’ shocks and unanticipated stressors. Adaption, likewise, encourages proactive efforts—such as detailed emergency planning beyond the current 10 km emergency response zone—for measures like KI pill distribution and evacuation planning, to reduce overall risk.

CNSC’s Regulatory Oversight Report for Canadian Nuclear Power Plants: 2017

CELA reviewed promises made by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) at the June 2018 Pickering power plant relicensing hearing, related to the protection of vulnerable communities and drinking water contingency planning. CELA found the CNCS’s recently released Regulatory Oversight Report for Canadian Nuclear Power Generating Sites: 2017 was silent on these commitments. In response, we recommended the CNSC’s attention to these matters of crucial importance for the protection of the environment and individuals most vulnerable to the effects of radioactive releases.

87 groups call for inquiry into nuclear waste management

Dozens of groups and individuals officially called for an inquiry by the Auditor General into the handling of highly toxic, long-lived radioactive materials by the Government of Canada. We are concerned about the disposal of large quantities of highly toxic nuclear waste beside the Ottawa and Winnipeg Rivers. We are concerned about the grossly deficient national radioactive waste policies, rapidly increasing expenditures under a privatization arrangement, regulatory capture of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, and bungled environmental assessments.

New at CELA: The Northern Ontario project

CELA recently launched a pilot project to expand our client services to Northern Ontario. We are partnering with Northern communities, residents, and non-profits to address issues related to water, land, environmental, and human health. CELA counsel Kerrie Blaise is leading this ambitious project. By connecting with legal clinics in Northern Ontario, we hope to increase our reach in communities which have been historically underserved. We will be keeping materials related to our new project on our website for other researchers to access.

On the CELA Blog


Photo: Tree silhouette by Duncan Rawlinson – Duncan.co/Flickr

A first look at the USMCA trade deal

Earlier this month a new trade deal was announced between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.The deal contains some exciting news–the controversial investor state dispute settlement provision in NAFTA’s Chapter 11 which allowed private companies to sue Canada had been removed from the re-negotiated agreement. CELA counsel Kerrie Blaise and Jacqueline Wilson weigh in on this new deal.

Does the USMCA offer hope for a revitalized Commission for Environmental Cooperation?

How does the new Environment Chapter of the USMCA trade deal compare to NAFTA’s environmental side agreement? Hugh Benevides, former CELA counsel and former Canadian legal officer at the Secretariat of the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation looks at what this means for the future.

Chronicles from the North

CELA recently expanded its legal services in northern Ontario. Six weeks into the pilot project, CELA counsel Kerrie Blaise provides an update on what’s happened so far and our upcoming plans.

Faces of CELA

Q&A with Rashin Alizadeh

We recently caught up with CELA articling student Rashin Alizadeh. A graduate of Windsor Law, she joined CELA in July 2018. She works on cases, law reform, and answering queries from the public.

What inspired you to get involved in environmental law?

The book Plan B 2.0: Rescuing a planet under stress and a civilization in trouble, by Lester R. Brown. I was uninterested in environmental matters until I learned how damaging these issues are to every aspect of our lives, including our very basic needs. Once I experienced that spark, beginning with the book, I began learning more on the various related topics.

What’s been the best part of working with CELA?

I have been so fortunate to be able to work with experienced and well respected CELA staff. The lawyers and researchers are great at what they do, and also amazing coaches who guide me in my work and also allow me to take on responsibilities in order to prepare me for the practice of law.

What do you think is a Canadian environmental success story that could be applied to other countries?

The opportunities for public participation in Canada is important and a good template for other jurisdictions. It is important for the work of government and industry to be scrutinized, in order for our collective ecosystem to function appropriately. Therefore it is necessary to engage constituents in the process in an efficient and cost-effective manner, and without litigation.

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

Ironically, water. We are surrounded by water, but I think that also leads to complacency about the preservation and protection of our waters. One of my pet peeves is others keeping the tap running while brushing teeth or working in the kitchen. Of course, household water use is not the only threat to this precious resources, but it is a symptom of a bigger issue. I’m still trying to find a way to ask colleagues and family members to turn off the tap when they are not using the water. If you think of a polite way to say that, let me know!

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

I enjoy taking my dog to explore new parks and hiking grounds. I also love listening to podcasts on a variety of topics because it allows me to learn about new subjects. For example, I have learned about some of the means they have used to determine qualification for the Olympics, how social media sites draft their content policy, or podcasts about court cases which help expand my legal knowledge.

Upcoming events


Photo: Thunder Bay by Sharon Mollerus/Flickr

Nov. 6 – Thunder Bay discussion

Using the law to protect air, water, land and human health

At this evening event hosted by Environment North, CELA will discuss ways audience members can access information about environmental issues in their community and get involved in decision-making for environmental projects. For questions, please contact CELA counsel Kerrie Blaise at kerrie@cela.ca.

When: Tuesday, November 6 at 7:00 pm

Where: Waverley Library Auditorium, 285 Red River Rd., Thunder Bay

Nov. 12 – Webinar

Examining shared interests with the Michigan State Bar

CELA’s Executive Director Theresa McClenaghan will join members of Michigan State Bar and the Ontario Bar Association to discuss environmental laws relevant to lawyers on both sides of the border. Speakers will discuss the impact of the deep geological (nuclear waste) repository, development patterns, as well as the Great Lakes. When: Monday, November 12 at 12:00 pm

Nov. 15 – Belleville workshop

Disrepair despair: Healthy housing leads to happier homes

Find out how housing challenges and health issues influence one another. CELA’s Senior Researcher Kathleen Cooper will bring the RentSafe findings and public legal education resources to this event that will explore how social service providers can better assist clients with housing repair and maintenance challenges.

When: Thursday, November 15 at 9:30 am to 12:00 pm

Where: Douglas Room, 179 North Park Street, Belleville