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Dr Jocelyn Stacey
University of British Columbia, Allard School of Law

The last several years have revealed the unavoidable reality of climate-related disasters across Canada. At the same time, Canada has further entrenched its commitment to developing the Alberta oil sands with the concomitant risk of disaster from transporting fossil fuels. The risk of climate disaster is omnipresent, disaster harms are already borne by local communities, and law is everywhere implicated. In this paper, I argue that recent disasters reveal constitutional habits. Through a close analysis of federal, provincial and Indigenous government reports on the Nathan E Stewart spill and the historic 2017 wildfires in British Columbia, I identify assumptions about Canadian constitutional order that are so entrenched that they are performed as a habitual response to disaster. These public records show prevailing habits of colonialism and unilateralism that render communities vulnerable to climate disaster. This paper identifies emergent, serviceable constitutional practices (of recognition of Indigenous jurisdiction and mutual aid) that must become habitual in order to respond effectively to the climate emergency.

Dr Jocelyn Stacey is an Assistant Professor at the Peter A. Allard School of Law, UBC. Her research and teaching focuses on Canadian environmental and administrative law. Her first book, The Constitution of the Environmental Emergency (Hart Publishing, 2018) elaborates rule-of-law obligations that attend to our ever-present vulnerability to catastrophic environmental harm. She has a doctorate in law from McGill University, a LLM from Yale Law School and an LLB from the University of Calgary. Professor Stacey has been the recipient of numerous research grants and academic awards including a SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship for her doctoral work. Prior to graduate work, Jocelyn clerked for the Honourable Justice Marshall Rothstein at the Supreme Court of Canada. She is a founding Board Member of the Pacific Centre for Environmental Law and Litigation, a non-profit society dedicated to training law students and young lawyers in public interest environmental law litigation.

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