The Alberta government will present arguments to Canada’s top court on Wednesday as it argues against what the province has dubbed the “No More Pipelines” bill.
The Supreme Court of Canada began hearings on Tuesday as the federal government asked it to overrule an Alberta Court of Appeal opinion that declared their 2019 Impact Assessment Act (IAA) to be unconstitutional.
Justice Minister Tyler Shandro says the legislation is a threat to the long-term economic prosperity of Alberta’s province, energy industry and the entire country.
“We want to grow investment in Alberta, not have it driven away by unbalanced, unpredictable new rules for major projects,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.
The act was adopted to “establish a federal environmental assessment process to safeguard against adverse environmental effects in relation to matters within federal jurisdiction,” the attorney general of Canada stated in written legal arguments to the Supreme Court.
The Alberta government argues that the legislation is “a profound threat” to provincial jurisdiction over natural resources.
“Alberta’s economic wellbeing, and the employment and prosperity of its population, are dependent on its ability to sustainably manage and develop its natural resources, and in particular its oil and gas resources,” the attorney general of Alberta argues in its written legal brief.
Shandro also said Alberta has contributed $400 billion more to the federal government’s revenues than it has received in federal spending. In 2021, Alberta was the only province that made a positive net fiscal contribution to the federation, paying $394 million more in taxes to the federal government than it received in federal spending.
“Any damage to the Alberta economy caused by the ‘No More Pipelines’ act will be felt across the country,” Shandro said.
Under the Canadian Constitution, provinces have exclusive jurisdiction over laws relating to resource development. But neither the provinces nor the federal government has total control over environmental regulation.
The IAA, or Bill C-69, gives Ottawa power to assess and stop new resource projects which impact climate change, public health and Indigenous concerns. The act can also stop projects if they impact other areas of the environment regulated by Parliament, like fisheries and federal lands.
The appeal is drawing 29 intervenors, including Indigenous groups, environmentalists, business groups and seven provinces. Environmentalists and most Indigenous organizations are siding with the federal government, while industry and some Indigenous organizations and all but one province are backing Alberta.