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In late January 2011, the assistant deputy minister of Environment Canada is contemplating the final report of the joint review panel conducting the environmental assessment of Total E&P Canada’s $10 billion oil sands project, the Joslyn Mine near Fort McMurray, Alberta. Although the report advised that the project would be in the public interest only if — and it was a big if — adverse effects on species at risk were fully mitigated, she was aware that both the company and provincial officials did not agree with the need for further wildlife protection measures. Further, behind the scenes, the industry lobby group, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, opposed any offsite protection of habitat that might be seen as a precedent for future projects. The federal government’s priority was jobs, and the assistant deputy minister would soon be under pressure to advise the minister on whether to authorize the project to proceed. Without a mechanism to ensure that threatened wildlife would be protected, she could not recommend approval. She needed to find a solution that would work both for the environment and the project.
- To introduce students to a key intersection of business and government: the environmental assessment process for resource development projects.
- To develop an understanding of the complexities of working with multiple stakeholders with diverse interests.
- To consider innovative strategies to bridge significant differences among stakeholders.
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