Federal Impact Assessment Act Declared Unconstitutional by Alberta Court

On May 10, 2022, the Alberta Court of Appeal released its decision on the constitutionality of the federal Impact Assessment Act (IAA).

The main issue before the Court was whether the application of the IAA to intra-provincial projects was outside the federal government’s constitutional jurisdiction. The majority of the five-judge panel said the IAA is unconstitutional because it intrudes on provincial decision-making power over the development of natural resources.

One dissenting justice would have found that the IAA is constitutional because it only regulates “effects” within federal jurisdiction, such as fish habitat, effects on Indigenous peoples, or federal lands that fall within the scope of the federal government’s regulatory power.

Hours after the release of the case, the Prime Minister announced that the Government of Canada would appeal the decision.

MLT Aikins will publish another blog with a more detailed analysis of the Alberta Court of Appeal’s decision and its potential impacts in the coming days. Please contact a member of our Environmental Law group if you would like to discuss the impacts of the decision on you and your organization.