The role of non-governmental organizations in the articulation and enhancement of participatory rights in environmental decision-making as evidenced in the process leading up to and after MiningWatch Canada v. Canada (Fisheries and Oceans), 2010 SCC 2




Sewell, Kirsty

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This thesis used case study research methods to examine the role played by Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and the methods they use to increase public participation in environmental matters. It does this by investigating the process leading up to and following a Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) decision, that of MiningWatch Canada v. Canada (Fisheries and Oceans) (2010 SCC 2). Specifically, the strategies and methods used by NGOs in this study and their impact on public participation during and in the aftermath of the decision are examined. The primary research question is: what is the impact of NGOs on participatory politics as seen in the SCC decision, MiningWatch Canada v. Canada? Other research questions examined are: what role have NGOs had in increasing participation in environmental decision-making, and: how do NGOs increase public participation in environmental decision-making? Three main groups of strategies are used by the NGOs: “Legal”, “Challenge or Inform Government”, and “Creating an Emotional Response in an Audience.” Strategies common to all NGOs in this study were: “Increase Knowledge” by “Networking,” “Working with Communities at a Grass Roots Level” and “Publications and Reports”. The argument this thesis presents is that democracy is a dynamic process and various strategies can be used to influence participation in environmental decision-making. Specifically, groups of citizens can form in response to an issue, raise public awareness and encourage legislation and policy changes in the search for social progress; in this case, increase public participation in matters involving the environment.



Dispute Resolution, environmental decision-making, participatory rights, role of Non-Governmental Organizations, increasing public participation, strategies, human rights, conflict prevention, neoliberalism, Canadian mining industry, British Columbia, international human rights