April 16, 2020

Paramountcy of Federal Jurisdiction Over Aeronautics Stands


The Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) announced on April 16 that it would not be hearing the case of the Attorney General of Quebec v. 9105425 Canada Association, et al., letting stand the Quebec Superior Court’s 2018 ruling that Quebec’s environmental ministry did not have jurisdiction over federally regulated airport lands.

eFlight readers may recall earlier reports in 2018 about the decade-long struggles that the developer of an expanded aerodrome in Terrebonne, Quebec was having with both local and provincial authorities over who had jurisdiction over the land.

The developer had authorization from Transport Canada to move the Mascouche aerodrome to a nearby parcel of land (after public consultation), but work was ordered stopped by the municipal and provincial governments, citing non-compliance with the Quebec Environment Quality Act (EQA). At the time, COPA had intervenor status in the case and proceeds from the COPA Freedom to Fly Fund were used to provide legal arguments and plead in support of federal jurisdiction over airport lands.

The Quebec Superior Court ruled that the EQA had no constitutional applicability in this case. Meanwhile, the developer and municipality entered an agreement that allowed the development to continue.

The Attorney General of Quebec appealed to a higher court (QC Court of Appeal), which dismissed the case. The Attorney General of Quebec then asked for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada with the present result.

Although the SCC does not provide reasons for not hearing cases, a summary of this case is provided on their website.