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 guest lectures, short films, news stories and scenarios drawn from real-world environmental controversies. Some of these scenarios are taken up via optional student moot courts and client briefings. Topics typically include common law environmental litigation (eg toxic torts, class actions, SLAPP suits); jurisdiction to regulate (eg federal division of powers, local government powers, inherent Indigenous jurisdiction); air and water pollution control; public participation and environmental rights; compliance and enforcement; judicial review of environmental decision-making (eg standard of review, public interest standing); economic policy instruments (eg carbon taxes); federal toxics regulation; environmental/impact assessment; endangered species protection; and parks and protected areas (eg IPCAs). Throughout the course, we use cross-cutting issues like the climate crisis and environmental racism to understand complex legal and policy problems, and we explore the emerging debates around “rights of nature”.
The course is evaluated by a mid-term assignment, class participation, and final exam. For the mid-term assignment, students work in groups to do an in-class moot court, 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 Environmental & Urban Change graduate course ENVS 6164 and typically includes students from the MES program, whose presence greatly enriches the learning experience.