This course is an introduction to the law of environmental protection in Canada. Major issues and contemporary developments in environmental law are brought to life via case-study scenarios drawn from news stories and real-world environmental controversies and guest speakers. Topics typically include common law environmental litigation (e.g. toxic torts, class actions, SLAPP suits); jurisdiction to regulate (e.g. federal division of powers, local government powers, aboriginal self-government); command regulation and regulatory innovations; public participation and environmental rights (e.g. Ontario Environmental Bill of Rights, community right to know laws); environmental compliance and enforcement (e.g. environmental sentencing, citizen enforcement); international law and the environment (e.g. multilateral environmental agreements, international trade and investment law); judicial review of environmental decision-making (e.g. standard of review, public interest standing); economic policy instruments (e.g. carbon taxes and trading); federal toxic substances regulation; environmental impact assessment; endangered species protection; and parks and protected areas. We take up major federal environmental statutes including the Fisheries Act, Canadian Environmental Protection Act, Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and Species at Risk Act, as well as the Ontario Environmental Bill of Rights. Throughout the course, we use cross-cutting issues like climate change, sustainability, and disasters to understand complex legal and policy problems.
The course is evaluated based on in-class participation, a mid-term assignment, and a final exam. For the mid-term assignment, students work in groups to present an in-class client briefing, or submit a public comment to a government agency on a real-life proposed environmental act, policy, or regulation that is posted for comment on the Ontario Environmental Bill of Rights registry or the federal environmental registry.
The course is integrated with the Faculty of Environment & Urban Change graduate course ENVS 6164 and typically includes students from the MES and MBA programs, whose presence greatly enriches the learning experience.
Note: The instructor of this course/ seminar has indicated a preference or willingness to conduct optional in-person meetings for students. All in-person meetings will be optional for students until the general return to in-person instruction that is expected for the winter 2022 term. Any in-person meetings in the fall 2021 term that cover examinable course content will be accompanied by a remote participation option, such as a separate remote class, live dual delivery, and/ or a recording of the class, at the instructor’s discretion. More information will follow from the instructor after students have enrolled; please also note that there is no guarantee of in-person instruction in any course or seminar.