Canadian Environmental Law Association (1970; Toronto; 21 staff;

One of 18 legal aid clinics in Ontario which offer community services in specialized areas. Funded by Legal Aid Ontario. Also undertakes additional educational and law reform projects funded by government and private foundations. They advocates for those who believe they have been harmed by pollution or poor decision-making. Seeks to change policies that created problems. Primary focus is on assisting low-income people and disadvantaged communities.

Legal accomplishments:

  • Defended Canada’s first municipal bylaw outlawing the use of cosmetic pesticides on private property (the Hudson, Quebecpesticide bylaw).
  • Changed the rules around industrial water withdrawals from underground aquifers.
  • Ensured that higher life forms cannot be patented through a Supreme Court decision that remains an important precedent regarding biotechnology and intellectual property.
  • Ensured that the provincial Environment Ministry has to follow its Statement of Environmental Values in decision making under both Ontario and federal environmental protection laws.
  • Many more cases.


  • Monthly CELA e-Bulletin
  • News and Events
  • Reports, Lectures, proposals, calls to action, etc.

Leadership: Theresa McClenaghan (Executive Director)

Budget: $1.7m (2018)