Les origines : la Société pour l'avancement du droit de l'environne-
ment du Nouveau-

L'auteur Jean-Paul Bourque discute de la toute nouvelle Société pour l'avancement du droit de l'environnement au Nouveau-Brunswick, un service public de consultation sur le droit environnemental qui tente de réunir les avocats et les autres professionnels intéressés au progrès du droit environnemental dans la province.  La Société va fonctionner principalement comme un groupe de réflexion, mais ce groupe s'attend aussi à mettre en place des infrastructures qui permettront au public de mieux participer aux divers aspects des procédures légales.  Des étudiants en droit à l'Université de Moncton ont créé une section étudiante de la Société qui a soumis des recommandations aux autorités académiques de l'U de M pour que l'on mette en place à l'université un Centre sur le droit au développement durable et un service public de consultation sur le droit environnemental.

Un des buts de la Société est d'éviter la confrontation sur des questions légales.  En favorisant des outils et des techniques comme la médiation environnementale, la Société espère réunir les intéressés et éviter les procédures judiciaires.

The New Brunswick Environmental Law Society

Jean-Paul Bourque
Front commun pour la justice sociale du N.-B.
March 2007

ebruary 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.

Michel DesNeiges: "It’s time for a concerted
effort in environmental l
aw 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 Moncton."

Obtaining 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.

Environmental 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.