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Law and Policy Facts
  • The federal and provincial governments share legal jurisdiction over air pollution; historically, however, this has tended to be a justification for inaction as opposed to a spur to cooperative action on air pollution issues.

  • Virtually all of the ambient standards for air quality in Canada take the form of non-binding guidelines; and many of these guidelines are based on science that is at least two decades old.

  • While the federal government has the power to sign international treaties to protect air resources on a global scale, the federal government cannot implement these treaties without legal permission from the provinces.

  • Our legal system confers broad discretionary legal powers in federal and provincial Cabinet; failure to exercise these powers to protect the environment has proven very difficult to challenge in the courts.

  • Increasingly governments are turning to incentive-based forms of regulation, which promise the possibility of stimulating economic growth by encouraging companies to implement innovative, environmentally sound production approaches.

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