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  • The Constitution Act, 1867 (formerly the British North America Act, 1867)
  • The Canadian Constitution Act, 1982

So far Canadian Constitution Acts1 do not make mention of natural resources, environment or sustainable development.

The Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, declares that “the protection of the environment is essential to the well-being of Canadians and that the primary purpose of this Act is to contribute to sustainable development through pollution prevention.”

By the Canadian Environment Ministry account, the Act also provides that “new procedures for the investigation and assessment of substances and new requirements with respect to substances that the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Health have determined to be toxic or capable of becoming toxic, and provisions regarding animate products of biotechnology. The enactment also contains new provisions respecting fuels, international air and water pollution, motor emissions, nutrients whose release into water can cause excessive growth of aquatic vegetation and environmental emergencies, provisions to regulate the environmental effects of government operations and to protect the environment on and in relation to federal land and aboriginal land, disposal of wastes and other matter at sea, and the export and import of wastes.

The enactment provides for the gathering of information for research and the creation of inventories of data, which are designed for publication, and for the development and publishing of objectives, guidelines and codes of practice. The enactment also provides new powers for enforcement officers and analysts appointed by the Minister of the Environment to enforce the law. Environmental protection alternative measures and environmental protection compliance orders provide new mechanisms for the resolution of a contravention. The enactment also specifies criteria for courts to consider on imposing a sentence on an offender.

In addition, the enactment contains new rights for Canadians who, through written comments or notices of objection to the Minister of the Environment, may participate in decisions on environmental matters, may compel the Minister to investigate an alleged contravention of the Act, and may bring a civil action when the federal government is not enforcing the law. Aboriginal governments are provided the right of representation on the National Advisory Committee to be established under the enactment and, like the provinces and territories, may seek to have their laws declared equivalent to regulations under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.”

More detailed information about sustainable development in Canada is available on the Environment Ministry Website.

1. The Constitution Act, 1867 and the Canadian Constitution Act, 1982 are not available on the Supreme Court website. An English version of both Acts can be obtained on the Canadian Department of Justice's website.