Instructor(s): George Vegh

For graduate students, the course number is LAW2048H.

Note: The Quercus program will be used for this course. Students must self-enrol in Quercus as soon as confirmed in the course in order to obtain course information.

Canadian energy policy is unique in a number of ways:

  • Canada has portrayed itself as both an energy superpower and a climate change leader.  This has created challenges of contradictions and coherence in energy policy;
  • The Constitutional division of authorities between provinces (as owners and regulators of resources) and Canada (which has jurisdiction over pipelines and extra-provincial environmental matters) creates a unique need to integrate federal provincial policies.  While this has worked on occasion, it has often led to inter-governmental conflict, including litigation over approvals and taxes; and
  • The goal of reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples presents a range of complex opportunities for economic development and challenges for physical environmental impact.  These issues often play themselves out in the courts.

In all of these areas, Canada operates in the context of international policies and practices that directly impact domestic priorities.  For example,

  • Energy commodities are traded internationally and the supply adequacy and price of fossil fuels creates a political context that has a direct impact on Canada, such as the ability to build pipelines to export fuel to domestic and foreign markets.  This has led to constitutional challenges, and even crises.
  • GHG reduction targets are set through international agreements whose implementation in Canada directly results in legal and political issues respecting carbon taxes, renewable power development, and support for innovative technologies such as smart grids and advanced battery technologies.
  • Finally, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and its adoption in Canada integrates international standards into Canadian laws and practices of Indigenous Reconciliation and Consultation. 

This course will examine address Canadian energy policy, law and institutions within the context of these international drivers. Specific issues to be addressed include:

  • The development of international energy institutions and their current challenges in addressing substantive issues such as security of supply, economic development and environmental impact;
  • federal and provincial legal frameworks for energy supply, including federal infrastructure and environmental legislation aimed at addressing pipeline development, Indigenous Reconciliation and GHG reduction; and
  • The role of provincial electricity law and policies addressing:
    • energy regulatory governance;
    • The way in which renewable power contributes to meeting reliability and flexibility requirements, including the challenges posed by renewable power to electricity markets; and
    • Technological innovation, including distributed generation and smart grids.
3 short papers (2000 – 2500 words) on class readings, (25% each); seminar presentation (15%); and class participation which includes attendance and input into discussion (10%).
Academic year
2019 - 2020

At a Glance

First Term
Perspective course



15 JD



W: 8:30 - 10:20