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Review of Constitutional Studies

Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date



Environmental Law; Environmental Assessment; Rule of Law; Deliberative Democracy; Stephen Harper


The article argues that Harper’s dramatic changes to federal environmental assessment give rise to a two-dimensional legacy in environmental law: first, a legacy of impoverished environmental decision-making that reflects a narrow, resource-oriented vision of the environment, and second, a legacy of undermining democratic and rule-of-law values in environmental law. The crux of this latter legacy is the argument that environmental assessment law provides an essential framework for publicly-justified decision-making in the Canadian environmental context. Indeed, as I suggest in this article, environmental assessment presently performs a quasi-constitutional role in Canadian environmental decision-making in the sense that it provides the means by which the federal government fulfills its constitutional obligation to govern the environment in accordance with the rule of law.

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