Dalhousie Law Journal


Environmental law, Canadian, Eighties, problems, perspectives


Environmental law in Canada has developed slowly during the last two decades. While the rise and popularisation of the environmental movement of the sixties and early seventies did encourage the creation of a federal Department of Environment and many provincial counterparts, as well as facilitate the passage of a number of pieces of legislation, there is some question as to how substantial an impact the institutions and legislation have made on Canada society. One problem which has beset the development of adequate environmental legislation is the significant gap which has opened up between the words on paper, the "black letter law", and the actual actions undertaken by politicians and officials to implement that law. The gap between words and action is obscured from adequate consideration, because contemporary forms of legal analysis lead us to view legislation and court decisions as quite separate from the behavior of politicians and officials toward the legislation. In fact, from the perspective of an individual or industry subject to pollution control law, the central reality is the pattern of actual behavior of public officials as they implement the law. Therefore, the analysis of law presented in this paper focuses on the process of legislation, and, in particular, stresses the actual behaviour of public officials and politicians towards legislation.