Was protection of the environment added to the Constitution in 1982?

The short answer is that, no, even with the chance to update and change our constitution, the Government of Canada decided not to include any environmental protections. However, this doesn’t mean that people weren’t trying to get it included! Even in the 1970s and 80s, there were already some who were fighting to have protections for the environment at a constitutional level.

One group that was fighting for the environment to be included in the new Charter was the Canadian Environmental Law Association (“CELA”) who submitted a brief to the Canadian Parliament arguing for the inclusion of the environment in the proposed constitutional text. [1] Specifically, CELA suggested that Section 6 of Bill C-60 include an additional section that reads: “the right of the individual to environmental quality and environmentally sound planning.”[2] Unfortunately, this proposal was rejected and CELA did not push further when the Charter was inevitably drafted. [3]

Following these historic constitutional amendments, the past 35 years in constitutional law have focused primarily on legal challenges to the Charter.

<< 1867 was a long time ago – what has happened since then?

Should we include the environment in the Canadian Constitution? >>

[1] Colin P. Stevenson, “A New Perspective on Environmental Rights after the Charter” (1983) 21;3 Osgoode Hall LJ 390 at 401-402.

[2] Toby Vigod & John Swaigen, “Brief to the Joint-Senate/House of Commons Committee on the Constitution of Canada Bill C-60” (29 September 1978) Canadian Environmental Law Association, online: https://cela.andornot.com/archives/media/docs/FONDS%20CELA/SOUS-FONDS%20Publications/SERIES%20Other/FILE%20CELA%20briefs%20and%20responses%20to%20government%20consultations%20Other/ITEM%20Brief%20on%20Bill%20C-60/Brief%20on%20Bill%20C-60.pdf

[3] Colin P. Stevenson at 403.





The Canadian Constitution And Environmental Law

Lesson Plan: Fundamentals of Environmental Law
Lesson Plan: Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Lesson Plan: Tragedy of the Commons
Lesson Plan: Climate Litigation

Curriculum Connections


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