In 2021 Alberta challenged the constitutionality of the federal Impact Assessment Act (IAA). The case is still under review by the Alberta Court of Appeal. The IAA effectively replaced the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act as the authority for the review and regulation of environmental impacts of major projects with national implications.
Alberta argued that the IAA is not supported by the provisions of the Canadian constitution. Its case rests on two primary arguments. The province says that the law would allow the federal government to approve or deny projects that are currently exclusively within provincial jurisdiction. Alberta maintains the provinces have authority over exploration, development, and management of natural resources. These are essential powers that derive from their ownership of the resources. The second issue the province raises is the criteria of assessment included in IAA. For example, the IAA states that the government’s assessment of a project will include social and gender parity implications. Alberta’s filing with the Court states that these and other criteria go significantly beyond environmental factors.
The Court’s decision need not necessarily determine the overall constitutional acceptability of the Act. There are options the it may choose in deciding the case.
There is no estimate when the ruling will be delivered.