On October 13, 2023, the Supreme Court of Canada released its highly-anticipated judgment on constitutional challenges to the federal Impact Assessment Act (IAA) raised by the Province of Alberta. In a 5-2 split decision, a majority of the Court concluded that, while the federal government is permitted to create a federal impact assessment regime, the current “designated projects” scheme created by the IAA is beyond the legislative authority of the federal government and therefore unconstitutional. A small portion of the IAA concerning projects carried or financed by federal authorities was not challenged by Alberta and was upheld by the Court as being within Parliament’s legislative authority. The decision follows a May 2022 ruling by the Alberta Court of Appeal which also held that the IAA was beyond Parliament’s legislative authority.
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