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Wild Animal Law of Canada


Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (federal)('CEPA')

(current to 01 May 2016)

Note Re Application of the CEPA

While the CEAA (see that module) requires separate federal land control or jurisdictional authority (aka a constitutional 'head of power'') to attract it's application [Friends of the Oldman River Society v Canada (Minister of Transport) [1992] 1 SCR 3], general environmental protection has been held by the Supreme Court of Canada to be a shared matter of concern between both the federal and the provincial levels of government [R v Crown Zellerbach Canada Ltd. [1988] 1 SCR 401]. As such, the CEPA has broad and general application to the entire country.

This law bears on the wildlife issues of:
The full current text of this legislation (including regulations) may be viewed at the Canada statute website.


While not directly relevant to animals or animal welfare, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA) is Canada's federal-level general environmental regulatory statute and as such impacts on animal habitat and protection nonetheless. The CEPA includes 'living organisms' within it's key operative concepts of "environment" and "biological diversity", and 'animals' within it's definition of "ecosystem"[CEPA s.3(1)], so they are clearly anticipated as being effected by the legislation. However, the dominant immediate CEPA goals are of reduction and mitigation of harm to the environment from such things as industrial toxics, air and water pollutants, waste and similar substances.

Like it's sister legislation, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA) the CEPA adopts in it's application the 'precautionary principle' (that only proof of risk, rather than certainty, of harm is required to justify preventative measures) [CEPA s.2(1)].

Details of orders, permits, proposals, notices and similar activity under CEPA may be reviewed as the Canadian Environmental Registry. The CEPA offense provision [CEPA s.272] also renders a range of CEPA violations prosecutable as federal regulatory offences under the federal Contraventions Act.

As a practical matter, those facing animal-related problems would most commonly have recourse to the CEPA where animals are being impacted by industrial pollution, toxins or similar substance-related harm. Even then they would have to locate the substance within the extensive regulatory framework of CEPA to see how it is regulated and what can be done about the situation.

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