2007 marked the official beginning of the New Brunswick Environmental
Law Society, a public service environmental law association that seeks
to unite lawyers and other professionals interested in advancing
environmental law in the province.
The Society will function
mostly as a think tank, but the group also expects to establish
infrastructures that will permit better public participation in
various aspects of the legal process.
The Society has been put
together by a group of New Brunswick environmentalists who have been
responsible in the past for the creation of several other successful
organizations in New Brunswick. Lead by Michel LeBlanc DesNeiges,
the Society will seek to build a strong provincial membership base and
begin hosting various events and activities. The group's first
public event is the organization of an important environmental law
conference in March 2007 in conjunction with the student environmental
law society of the U de M.
DesNeiges: "It’s time for a concerted
effort in environmental law in our province."
(photo: Fondation Médias Verts)
"In a way, this
represents the culmination of a personal journey for me," says
Mr. DesNeiges, on the creation of the New Brunswick Environmental Law
Society. Indeed, Mr. DesNeiges by himself represents a
"culture" of pioneer actions and environmental group
initiatives over the last 15 years. From the Université de
Moncton, he holds both an undergraduate degree in Psychology and a
Masters in Environmental Studies. Mr. DesNeiges either founded
or helped initiate environmental groups such as Écoversité, the
Green Media Foundation, the Petitcodiac Riverkeeper, and the Hann
Baykeeper in Senegal. Accomplishments with Green Media include
drafting the Town of Bouctouche's green plan, an Internet video
series, and the Blue Green television series.
According to Mr. DesNeiges,
"The Society will distinguish itself in the area of environmental
law by its mission, which seeks to contribute to a better
understanding of environmental law for the benefit of environmental
organizations, the general public and other non-legal organizations
and institutions. Also, the Society has the specific mandate of
supporting the student environmental law society of the Université de
the first Canadian Riverkeeper chapter: Michel DesNeiges and
Waterkeeper Alliance President, Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
(photo: Fondation Médias Verts)
In fact, Université de
Moncton law students recently created a student wing of the Society.
The student group's first official function was the submission of a
policy paper to U de M's Academic authorities, which contains a
documented and argued recommendation for the creation of a Centre for
Sustainable Development Law at the university as well as a public
service environmental law clinic. Mr. DesNeiges sees the initial
activities of the clinic concentrated in the related fields of First
Nations' Indigenous/Aboriginal Law, Environmental Mediation, and
Municipal/Land Use Law.
"The idea of using
the law to further environmental issues is still new in New
Brunswick. We're trying to build a network to respond to the
legal needs of various community actors, including environmental
non-governmental organizations," says Mr. DesNeiges.
Ironically, perhaps, one of the Society's goals is to actually avoid
confrontation over legal matters. "By favoring tools and
techniques such as environmental mediation, we hope to bring people
together and avoid going to the courts. But, we also have to be
able to respond to the more adversarial environmental disputes,"
concludes Mr. DesNeiges.
law clinics are popping up
all over North America.
(photo: Duke Law)
The Society's membership
is open to lawyers as well as non-lawyers: citizens, First Nations
persons, university scientists and teachers, college and public school
teachers, other professionals, as well as people from municipal
bodies. Moreover, the Society's benefits are publicly
accessible; the product of a think tank that provides research,
conferencing, and teaching services on substantive public law matters
affecting the natural environment and human health.
For more information,
visit the New Brunswick Environmental Law Society: http://www.sade-els.org
and Société pour l'avancement du droit de l'environnement de
l'Université de Moncton: www.umoncton.ca/sade.