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Introduction to Environmental Policy

Session 13

Deconstructing Federalism: Case Study Six -

Canda as a Model for Environmental Policy



EVR 2861 


The assigned readings and videos for this class session are designed to expand your ideas about constitutional rights and processes by briefly introducing you to the Canadian Constitution and how that constitution contributes to environmental sustainability and protection. As you see, Canada's government like that of the U.S. is a federalist system. You willl need to familiarize yourself with the Canadian Federal system by reading pages 4-10 in the linked article (below) by Polten & Glezl (2014). Likewise, you will need to familiarize yourself with "federalism" as a concept (Law, 2013). Videos and readings will give you a feel for what's going on now in Canada on the envionmental front. The thesis of this session (see the Casey, 2011 article below) is that the U.S. should adopt a Canadian approach to environmental policy. To that end you will be asked to familiarize yourself with the basics of the Canadian Constitution - particularly those sections pertaining to the environment - and compare that Constitution to the U.S. Constitution when it comes to the feasibility of the U.S. modeling its environmental policies after Canada.


Adler, Jonothan H. (2005) "What Happens When Environmental Law Meets the Constitution?" Annual American Bar Association Meeting on Environment, Energy and Resources, (September 21-25), Nashville, TN.

Canada's Sytem of Government (2015) Illustration. The Parliment of Canada, Ottawa, CA.

Casey, Timothy T. (2011) "A Model Environmental Nation? Canada as a Case Study for Informing U.S. Environmental Policy," American Review of Canadian Studies. Vol. 41, No. 4, p. 345-357.

Government of Canada (2015) The Canadian Constitution. The Canadian Department of Justice, Retrieved from the Worldwide Web October 12, 2015 at http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/csj-sjc/just/05.html

Law, John (2013) "How Can We Define Federalism?" Perspectives on Federalism. Vol. 5, No. 3, p. 88-120.

Makrenot, Jay (2007) "The Canadian Constitution: Introduction to Canada's Constitutional Framework," (August 1), Mapleleafweb. Retrieved from the Worldwide Web October 12, 2015 at http://mapleleafweb.com/features/canadian-constitution-introduction-canada-s-constitutional-framework#what

Polten, Eric P. and Glezl, Peter (2014) Federalism in Canada and Germany: Overview and Comparison. Toronto, CA: Polten & Associates.

Powell, Brenda Heelan (2014) Environmental Assessment and The Canadian Constitution. Ecmonton, CA: Environmental Law Centre

Video: Environmental Professor Talks About Canada; Environment and the Budget (Canada); Elizabeth May - Leader of Canada's Green Party; May in Your House - The Story of Canada's Green Party; Powerplay - NAFTA Trying to Privatize Canada's Freshwater; Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; Overview of the Canadian Constitution;


  1. Descirbe and discuss the top three issues confronting Canadian efforts to protect the environment.
  2. After having reviewed readings and videos generally familiarizing you with the Canadian Constitution, briefly explain how the Canadian Constitution contributes to environmental protection (citing the appropriate sections of the Canadian Constitution).
  3. What role is Canada's Green Party playing in the nation's environmental policy?
  4. Consider the case study for this session which calls for the US to adopt Canadian environmental policy. Explain the differences between the U.S. and the Canadian constitution as it pertains to environmental protection.
  5. Consider the article by Jonothan Adler regarding the interface between the U.S. Constitution and environmental protection. Then go to the linked Word document entitled "Constitutional Checklist" and check the pertinent constitutioal elements involved in the U.S. environmental protection. After having done so, breifly discuss the pertinent constitutional challenges.
  6. Explain why it is or is not feasible or advisable for the U.S. to adopt Canadian environmental policies.