Canada’s Court of Appeal “liked” The Navigable Waters Act

Sorry, in these FaceBook dominated times, I couldn’t resist this corny title 😉

In 1992 a federal Court of Appeal presided over by eight judges including Canada’s Chief Justice at the time, Antonio Lamer, concluded that the Navigable Waters Act was about more than boats and cottagers’ docks. The case I’m referring to was Friends of the Oldman River Society v. Canada (Minister of Transport), [1992] 1 S.C.R. 3. The Court of Appeal, in its judgement against the building of a dam on Alberta’s Oldman River, ruled that, though the prime purpose of the Navigable Waters Act was to protect navigation, complaints brought before it usually were about things (like bridges and dams) that might interfere with navigation. So the Court’s role was to consider whether other advantages of a project might be important enough to justify interference with navigation. Included among things to be considered, the Court ruled, was the effect of a project on the environment.

Quoting from the Court’s 1992 ruling:

As I mentioned earlier in these reasons, the Act (the Navigable Waters Act) has a more expansive environmental dimension,

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