Ecological Unity and Political Fragmentation: The Implications of the Brundtland Report for the Canadian Constitutional Order


  • Mark Walters



Using the recommendations of the Brundtland Report and the "Green Report" of the Canadian Council of Resource and Environment Ministers as a basis for analysis, the author discusses Canadian environmental policy and natural resources management within a constitutional setting. The author asserts that by failing to expressly address the constitutional implications that these issues raise, namely, that the natural environment must be conceptualized as a cohesive unity which renders political boundaries mere legal fictions, the approach to date has been fundamentally flawed. Part One of the paper sets out the principles of sustainable development and the constitutional questions they raise for Canadian resource management and Canadian federalism. Part Two then examines the "spillover" theory of democracy and federalism and its relationship to the "Peace, Order and Good Government" clause. The author concludes that a formalistic Constitutional framework can never provide a practical solution to the problem — environmental management and resource management are indivisible and should be addressed through cooperative federalism. Finally, the author suggests that the Constitution may be able to play a constructive role by defining the parameters within which cooperative federalism must occur