Environmental Law

Section 2: Legislation that Protects the Environment

International Perspective

Before going on to the next lesson, you should be aware of one more aspect of environmental law that adds yet another level of complexity. You've now thought about the powers of the three levels of government when it comes to looking after environmental issues, and you've seen how this has created certain tensions between the different levels. But remember that in many respects the environment is something shared not only by municipalities, provinces, and Canada as a whole; it is also shared by other countries and, indeed, the entire planet.

Environmental issues don't respect international borders and if advances are to be made, often countries have to work together and sign treaties and protocols. This can be very difficult at times, especially when the countries have very different interests. Developed countries, for instance, like Canada, may be willing to curb pollution emissions, while developing countries, like India, object that for them to do so would cost so much it would crush their chance of ever giving their citizens an improved standard of living.

When it comes to legislation designed to protect Canada's natural resources and the environment, all three levels of government are at work and sometimes there's a good deal of overlap. This is because the Constitution Act, 1867 gives both the provinces and the federal government grounds for claiming jurisdiction. What's more, because environmental concerns don't respect national borders, often the governments of countries have to collaborate and sign treaties with the governments of other countries whereby both (or all) of them agree to certain regulations.

Please proceed to the graded, Introductory Quiz, on the next page.