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News Brief
November 25, 2013

James Palmer with his daughters Sarah (left) and Valerie (right) in Kananaskis. Image courtesy of the Palmer family
Celebrating the many contributions of James Palmer, community leader and philanthropist


In early September, Albertans honoured the life of James (Jim) S. Palmer, a prominent Albertan known for his business and community leadership, as well as his support for charitable causes. The Chair  Emeritus of the law firm Burnet, Duckworth and Palmer LLP, Mr. Palmer was highly respected and regarded in Calgary and across Canada as a mentor, a leader, and a philanthropist.


Mr. Palmer is well-recognized for his contributions to the community and, among many other honours, was named a Member of the Order of Canada in 1993 and inducted into the Alberta Order of Excellence in 2003. In addition to his philanthropic and business investments, Mr. Palmer valued Canada's great outdoors. He enjoyed hiking and skiing in Alberta's Rockies, and sailing and swimming in PEI with his family.


We extend our sincere condolences to Mr. Palmer's wife, Barbara, to his daughter Sarah Palmer (a former ELC Director), and to the rest of his family. We are very grateful for the many ways Mr. Palmer supported the Environmental Law Centre: from attending our inaugural Green Regs & Ham event in June, to the generous donations he made throughout the last 25 years to support strong environmental public policy.


Considering the many organizations and causes he and his family supported, Mr. Palmer leaves a remarkable legacy in Alberta.

Image courtesy of Lida Rose / Foter.com / CC BY-ND

After a very long wait a new wetland policy for the province was released yesterday.  The policy is a step forward in managing Alberta's wetlands as it is the first time a policy applies to the Green Area (public land) of the province.  Beyond that only time will tell if environmental outcomes are supported at all by the policy.  There is simply too much wiggle room in the policy to validate it as an effective mechanism to protect wetlands of significant biodiversity and ecosystem function.  The lack of certainty for environmental outcomes certainly doesn't bolster social licence arguments about the sustainability of activities in Alberta. 


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You can also read what ABlawg has to say about the new wetland policy here and here.

Image courtesy of adamr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

To have a world-class environmental protection system, we need world-class decision-making processes. To make sound decisions in the public interest, decision-makers need to hear from the broad range of views and concerns, as no one party can represent the entire public interest. To get there, we need to move away from considerations of "directly affected," from treating diversity of views as something to be avoided, and from shielding regulatory decisions from public scrutiny.


A confidential mess: The problem with confidentiality when cleaning up pollution

When a polluter contaminates the environment should we know exactly what is being done to address that harm?  I would argue that we should, as environmental contaminants do not respect contractual boundaries or temporal boundaries, nor do they fit tightly into geographic or jurisdictional compartments.


This question underlies the recent court decision of Imperial Oil Limited v Calgary (City).  A detailed review of the decision is provided by Linda McKay-Panos in her blog (at ABlawg). 


Support Us!

This is a critical time to work on environmental law matters, and a time when our work is needed most. We must raise $30K to reach our goal of $120K to ensure that we can meet the urgent needs of the communities we serve. You can support thousands of Albertans who contact us each month for the information and tools they need to protect the environment and responsibly develop our natural resources. Please make a generous donation today.


The gift giving season is upon us. Tuesday December 3 is #GivingTuesday - a movement to inspire charitable giving. Please support us on #GivingTuesday or today to protect Alberta's environment.


All donations receive a tax receipt. For more information, visit our website or call 1-800-661-4238. To reach our goal, we estimate costs will be 12% of funds raised. CCRA # 118900679 RR0001.

Leah Orr
Communications Coordinator


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