Railway Association of Canada intervenes in Reference regarding Environmental Management Act before the Supreme Court of Canada

Date Closed

January 16, 2020

Lead Office


McCarthy Tétrault represented the Railway Association of Canada (“RAC”) in a reference case regarding the scope of British Columbia’s jurisdiction to regulate the interprovincial movement of heavy oil by pipeline and rail. McCarthy acted on behalf of the RAC before both the British Columbia Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada.

On May 28, 2019, the BC Court of Appeal unanimously decided that British Columbia’s proposed amendments to the Environmental Management Act were beyond the jurisdiction of a provincial government. On January 16, 2020, the Supreme Court of Canada heard the appeal of the BCCA decision and wholly endorsed the BCCA's reasons in a rare ruling from the bench. In his arguments before the SCC, Nicholas Hughes argued that interprovincial undertakings, including the federal railways, are immune from provincial laws that seek to regulate the management and operations of those undertakings. 

The Railway Association of Canada is a trade association which advocates on behalf of member organizations on issues such as government regulations, policy, and workplace safety.

McCarthy Tetrault litigators Nicholas Hughes, Emily MacKinnon, and Kevan Hanowski represented the Railways Association of Canada in this successful mandate.