Join us for a panel discussion – The SCC Impact Assessment Act Decision: federal assessments – past, present, and future

Join us for a panel discussion – The SCC Impact Assessment Act Decision: federal assessments – past, present, and future

Join our panelists Brenda Heelan Powell (ELC)  and Prof. Andrew Leach, and Prof. Cameron Jefferies, from the Faculty of Law (University of Alberta) as we dive into the Supreme Court decision regarding the federal Impact Assessment Act to discuss the decision’s implications for federal assessment of projects and what the case means for federal approaches to sustainability.

When: November 22, 2023, noon-1:30pm


In person: Room 237/231, Law Centre, University of Alberta  111 89 Ave NW, Edmonton  Click this link to register

Online: Zoom webinar Click this link to attend online.


On October 13, 2023 the Supreme Court of Canada rendered its decision in relation to a reference case seeking the courts view on constitutionality of the federal Impact Assessment Act.  The Court found certain parts of the Act unconstitutional.

Co-hosted by the Faculty of Law and the ELC, the panelists will set out the evolution of federal assessment, the decisions and its impacts and what the future may hold.


Andrew Leach, PhD, MA, LLM, BSc (University of Alberta)

Andrew Leach is an energy and environmental economist and is a Professor jointly appointed to the Department of Economics and the Faculty of Law at the University of Alberta. He has a Ph.D. in Economics from Queen’s University, and a B.Sc (Environmental Sciences) and M.A. (Economics) from the University of Guelph, and an L.L.M. (Constitutional Law and Climate Change) from the Faculty of Law at the University of Alberta. His research spans energy and environmental economics with a particular interest in energy and climate change policies.

Brenda Heelan Powell, BSc, LLB, LLM (Environmental Law Centre)

Brenda Heelan Powell graduated from the University of Alberta with a B.Sc. in 1993 and a LL.B. in 1996. After practicing law with a Calgary law firm, Brenda left private practice to pursue a LL.M. at the University of British Columbia. During her studies at the University of British Columbia, Brenda concentrated on environmental and natural resources law courses. Since completion of her LL.M. in 1999, Brenda has worked at the Environmental Law Centre and the Alberta Energy & Utilities Board. Brenda re-joined the Environmental Law Centre as Staff Counsel based in Calgary in 2011.

Brenda has published articles and briefs on a variety of environmental law topics. She is author of Demystifying Forestry Law, An Alberta Analysis, 2nd. Ed. and A Model Environmental and Sustainability Assessment Law. In addition, Brenda has had numerous speaking engagements dealing with environmental legal issues including as a sessional instructor at the University of Alberta.

Cameron Jefferies, B.Sc., LL.B., LL.M., S.J.D. (University of Alberta)

Cameron Jefferies, is a Professor of Law at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, where he specializes in international and domestic environmental law and energy law. He currently teaches Environmental Law, International Environmental Law, Basic Oil and Gas Law, and Oceans Law and Policy. He was admitted to the Law Society of Alberta in 2010. He completed his graduate degrees at the University of Virginia, School of Law, where he studied as a Fulbright Scholar. Before entering academia, Cameron practiced at Field LLP in Edmonton, Alberta, and worked as a Research Associate at the Health Law Institute at the University of Alberta. He has published several book chapters and articles in Canadian and U.S. law journals, including the Energy Law Journal and the Journal of Environmental Law and Practice. He is the author of Marine Mammal Conservation and the Law of the Sea (OUP, 2016), co-author of Tort Law, 6thed. (Carswell, 2017), and co-editor of Global Environmental Change and Innovation in International Environmental Law (CUP, 2018). He has been an invited speaker to a number of national and international conferences. In addition to his academic and professional curiosity in environmental law, oceans law, and wildlife conservation, Dr. Jefferies maintains a keen interest in public interest advocacy and remains active in promoting local environmental law reform.

Moderator: Jason Unger, BSc, LLB (Environmental Law Centre)

Jason Unger is the Executive Director and General Counsel of the ELC.  Jason’s practice has focused on issues of water law, legal tools for conservation on private lands, environmental assessment law, species at risk and pollution prevention. Prior to joining the ELC Jason worked in private practice at firms in Edmonton and Calgary. His private practice included experience before the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, the Alberta Court of Appeal, and the Natural Resources Conservation Board. Jason also sits as a Board member on the Alberta Water Council, a multi-stakeholder organization that provides advice and input on provincial water policy.   Jason recently contributed a chapter to The Next Generation of Impact Assessment: A Critical Review of the Canadian Impact Assessment Act (Menihard Doelle; A John Sinclar eds) (Toronto, Irwin Law Inc. 2021)


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