Contested Sovereignty and the Great Pipeline Debates in Canada
This seminar considers rivalling claims to sovereignty over the approval of pipelines and other resource extraction infrastructure in Canada. Since 1982, Canada has constitutionally protected Indigenous rights enshrined in treaties, arising from traditional practices, and attaching to unceded land. This complex landscape of rights under Canadian law is further mediated by plural legal orders, including inherent Indigenous law and the federal division of Crown powers. In this context, infrastructure to develop and transport resources to market crosses over multiple territories subject to rivalling claims to jurisdiction. Disputes over the approval of infrastructure are therefore a recurrent theme in Canada and have peaked again recently. The seminar presents how such disputes have manifested over time in litigation and physical resistance with attention to concepts of sovereignty and the persisting notion of ‘terra nullius’.
Sarah Mason-Case is an Adjunct Professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, where she teaches Climate Change Law and Environmental Law, and a doctoral candidate at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. She is currently a visitor at the Centre for Resources, Energy and Environmental Law at Melbourne Law School. Her present research generally considers how international law practices generate and sustain concepts of nature, which distribute benefits and burdens among peoples and affect the material world. She is also researching lawyering practices in international climate change law. Sarah previously worked in domestic and international law reform.