Canada: Seeking To Restore Public Trust – The Federal Government Launches Review Of Environmental & Regulatory Processes

Last Updated: June 22 2016
Article by Charles Birchall

On Monday, the federal government announced a comprehensive review of environmental and regulatory processes. The highlights of the announcement indicate major changes are likely coming to environmental assessment in Canada:

  • Establish an Expert Panel to engage in extensive consultations with Canadians, Indigenous groups and key stakeholders in order to develop recommendations for revamping CEAA, 2012
  • Review and restore lost protections to the Fisheries Act and Navigation Protection Act
  • Modernize the National Energy Board
  • Review and amend northern territorial environmental assessment regimes in addition to the CEAA 2012 review.


When Prime Minister Trudeau issued his mandate letter to the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, he directed her, as a top priority, to "immediately review Canada's environmental assessment processes to regain public trust and help get resources to market and introduce new, fair processes that would:

  • Restore robust oversight and thorough environmental assessments of areas under federal jurisdiction, while working with provinces and territories to avoid duplication;
  • Ensure decisions are based on science, facts and evidence and serve the public's interest;
  • Provide ways for Canadians to express their views and opportunities for experts to meaningfully participate; and
  • Require project advocates to choose the best technologies available to reduce environmental impacts."

In January, 2016, Minister McKenna, and the Minister of Natural Resources, the Honourable Jim Carr, took the first step in seeking to restore public trust in the environmental assessment process by announcing the following principles and plans for major projects:

  1. No project proponent will be asked to return to the starting line — project reviews will continue within the current legislative framework and in accordance with treaty provisions, under the auspices of relevant responsible authorities and Northern regulatory boards;
  2. Decisions will be based on science, traditional knowledge of Indigenous peoples and other relevant evidence;
  3. The views of the public and affected communities will be sought and considered;
  4. Indigenous peoples will be meaningfully consulted, and where appropriate, impacts on their rights and interests will be accommodated; and
  5. Direct and upstream greenhouse gas emissions linked to the projects under review will be assessed.

Monday's Announcement

On June 20, 2016, six Ministers took the next step by announcing a comprehensive review of environmental and regulatory processes focused on the following components:

  • Rebuilding trust in environmental assessment processes;
  • Modernizing the National Energy Board; and
  • Restoring lost protections and introducing modern safeguards to the Fisheries Act and the Navigation Protection Act.

With respect to the first component, an Expert Panel (consisting of at least three persons) will be established to review federal environmental assessment processes associated with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA 2012). Throughout the fall of 2016, the Panel will hold meetings and consultation events across the country in regions or communities where project environmental assessments have been recently conducted or where interest has been expressed in the review. It is expected that the Panel will engage broadly with Canadians, Indigenous groups and key stakeholders in order to develop recommendations to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change aimed at restoring public confidence in environmental assessment processes.

While Terms of Reference for the Panel are being made available for public comment, the Panel will asked to consider the following matters raised in the mandate letters sent to Minister McKenna and the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs:

  1. How to restore robust oversight and thorough environmental assessments of areas under federal jurisdiction, while working with the provinces and territories to avoid duplication;
  2. How to ensure decisions are based on science, facts and evidence and serve the public Interest;
  3. How to provide ways for Canadians to express their views and provide opportunities for experts to meaningfully participate;
  4. How to require project advocates to choose the best technologies available to reduce environmental impacts; and
  5. How to ensure that environmental assessment legislation is amended to enhance the consultation, engagement and participatory capacity of Indigenous groups in reviewing and monitoring major resource development projects.

Dates and locations of Panel consultations will be available shortly. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency will also offer participant funding to Indigenous organizations, groups, communities and individuals to support their participation in the review.

In addition to Minister McKenna's review of environmental assessment processes, other Ministers will be carrying out reviews and proposing reforms to matters that intersect with environmental assessment. These include:

  • Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard– review changes to the Fisheries Act, restore lost protections and incorporate modern safeguards;
  • Minister of Natural Resources – modernize the National Energy Board to ensure that its composition reflects regional views and has sufficient expertise in fields such as environmental science, community development and Indigenous traditional knowledge; and
  • Minister of Transport – review changes to the Navigation Protection Act, restore lost protections and incorporate modern safeguards

Finally, the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, has launched a process to review and amend northern territorial environmental assessment regimes. As CEAA 2012 has limited application in the Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, matters related to northern environmental assessment regimes will be outside the mandate of the Expert Panel.

The federal government has embarked on an ambitious review of environmental and regulatory processes. Public expectations for a successful outcome are very high. As the Mining Association of Canada has noted, no less than six Ministers are engaged thus sending a clear signal that collaboration and consultation will be the cornerstones for reforms that are recommended. This view has also been echoed by Jessica Clogg, Executive Director and Senior Counsel, West Coast Environmental Law: "With tensions running high over the fate of major projects like pipelines and dams, the stakes have never been higher as the government seeks to revamp the way environmental decisions are made in Canada. Collaboration with Indigenous peoples and civil society groups will be an essential part of achieving this goal."

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Charles Birchall
In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.