Canadian Environmental Law Association

Founding Year: 1970

Staff: 21

Budget: $1.7m (2018)

Theresa McClenaghan (Executive Director)

One of 18 legal aid clinics in Ontario which offers 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 advocate 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, Quebec pesticide by law).
  • 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.


Canadian Environmental Law Association contributes to the following Sustainable Development Goals

  Organization Type

  Geographic Foci


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