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Some good stories we’re not covering

August 9, 2010

Wouldn’t you know it – I go away on holiday for a week and all kinds of stories happen and I’m not there to write them up for the Environmental Law Alert Blog.  Here are a handful of stories that were interesting – relating either to environment or law, or both – which I might have written posts about if I’d been here.  Seriously though – let me know what you think of this type of news round-up; we simply don’t have enough time to do in-depth blog posts on everything of interest that crosses our desks. 

  • Ontario eco-lawyer, Dianne Saxe, has a summary of a BC court case about a West Vancouver property that was contaminated.  The usual basic story: girl meets property, girl checks out property and is assured that it’s not contaminated, girl buys property and finds that it is.  What’s unusual about the story is that the people who sold the property had been assured by their own contractor that the leaking oil tank had been dealt with, emphasizing the importance of asking difficult questions when dealing with potentially contaminated properties.  Here’s the original BC Supreme Court judgment in Aldred v. Colbeck.   
  • Legal Planet asks whether the Western Climate Initiative (WCI) is unconstitutional.  You’ll recall that BC is a member of Western Climate Initiative and has recently failed to unveil its plans for implementing the WCI agreement.  The Legal Planet post focuses entirely on the U.S. constitutional issues, but this is not to say that there may not be questions raised about the constitutionality of Canadian provinces participating in international agreements of this type. 
  • The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that public access to government records can, in some circumstances, be protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  Specifically, section 2(b), the right of Freedom of Expression, protects access to documents, where, in the words of the Supreme Court, it is “a necessary precondition of meaningful expression, does not encroach on protected privileges, and is compatible with the function of the institution concerned.”  It makes me wonder how this constitutional status may affect the interpretation of BC’s Freedom of Information and Privacy Act.  For further commentary on the case see the posts from Dianne Saxe and Law is Cool.
  • Analysis from our friends at the Pembina Institute shows that the Canadian government’s new rules for vehicle emissions will do little or nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emission. 
  • I know it’s been all over the internet, but certainly worth mentioning this opinion piece from Bill McKibben on how to build a new climate change movement, in the after-math of the US Senate’s failure to pass climate change legislation.

Again, please let me know if you’d like to see more of this type of news round-up.  Or if any of the stories strike you as one that you’d like to see more detailed analysis about (no promises).