Our Projects

Types of Work

In the pursuit of its mandate, the Clinic engages in litigation, legislative and policy reform, and access to information process. These strategies are sometimes intertwined into one project.


Our litigation work generally focuses on energy and environmental issues. Our completed and current projects involve working with clients who are seeking to enhance government transparency in environmental stewardship, hold governments to account on climate commitments, and enforce legal measures to protect endangered species and the environment.

Legislative and Policy Reform

Our legislative and policy reform work generally focuses on access to justice, transparency in government, animal welfare, and environmental protection. 


Access to Information

Many of our projects include the need for access to information held by government departments, and engagement with legal process seeking the release of this information.

Areas of Work

Energy and environmental statutes in Alberta have a “directly affected” test to determine who may participate in decision-making on matters such as mines, oil and gas wells, pipelines, utility infrastructure, renewable energy projects, commercial development in protected areas, and tourism projects. The need to establish a “direct affect” has traditionally meant that a person who seeks to participate in a decision must show how a development or project will adversely affect a natural resource they use or their use of a natural resource. In practice, this standing test has meant that only landowners in proximity to a project are likely to be entitled to participate in a decision, thereby excluding most Albertans from participating or having any say in government decisions that have implications for energy development and the environment. Clinic projects focus on facilitating opportunities for public participation and input into environmental decision-making by public officials in Alberta under environmental and resources legislation.

The 1992 United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity represents the international commitment to habitat protection for threatened species. It requires that Canada legislate and implement measures to identify and protect habitat for wildlife. In 1996, the federal, provincial, and territorial governments agreed to take steps to ensure Canada meets these commitments. The Species at Risk Act (Canada) is federal legislation with rules governing the listing of threatened species, recovery planning, and the prohibition of harm to listed species and critical habitat. This federal legislation has limited application in Alberta. The Wildlife Act (Alberta) and its regulations are Alberta’s governing legislative framework for critical habitat protection and animal welfare, but this framework largely grants officials with discretionary authority rather than impose obligations on recovery planning and protections. Clinic projects focus on ensuring Canada and Alberta comply with their commitment to protect habitat for threatened species, as well as advocate for animal welfare more generally.

Alberta has a problem in its resources sector: Abandonment, remediation and reclamation obligations are not always fulfilled by industry and Alberta has not taken adequate financial security to ensure the clean-up work will be completed if industry fails to meet its obligations. Commonly referred to as Alberta’s inactive and orphan oil and gas well problem in the conventional sector, it is widely acknowledged to be the result of a long-term policy failure. Current policy is being developed under Alberta’s Liability Management Framework and is largely administered by the Alberta Energy Regulator. Clinic projects focus on bringing critical public attention to this problem, enhancing opportunities for public participation in the administration of the Liability Management Framework, and advocating for law reform.

The Clinic is guided by an overall vision for a just Canadian society that values and respects all people and the environment in which we live. This vision directs the Clinic to work with community organizations and individuals who are advocating for systemic change in public law and policy matters generally, as well as strengthen access to the justice system. Some Clinic projects do not fit within one of our more specific subject areas, but they are undertaken because of a significant contribution towards access to justice for the disadvantaged or vulnerable members in our community.

Access to government records is essential for transparency and meaningful public participation in democratic governance and it is an important mechanism for holding government officials accountable to the public. Access to information legislation establishes a process to obtain access to government records, however in practice this process often seems to impose barriers to disclosure. Requests under access to information legislation can be frustrated by high fees charged by departments for document searches, exceedingly long delays in processing time, and excessive redactions in records that are released. Clinic projects focus on addressing these barriers. The Clinic also uses access to information requests to construct evidentiary records in litigation and law reform projects and to undertake exploratory research on prospective new projects.