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Subsidiarity

. 114957 Canada Ltée (Spraytech, Société d'arrosage) v. Hudson (Town)

In 114957 Canada Ltée (Spraytech, Société d'arrosage) v. Hudson (Town) (SCC, 2021) the Supreme Court of Canada, in an historic environmental case, considered the authority of a Quebec town by-law restricting pesticide use to non-cosmetic purposes. The SCC made this comment on subsidiarity:
3 The case arises in an era in which matters of governance are often examined through the lens of the principle of subsidiarity. This is the proposition that law-making and implementation are often best achieved at a level of government that is not only effective, but also closest to the citizens affected and thus most responsive to their needs, to local distinctiveness, and to population diversity. La Forest J. wrote for the majority in R. v. Hydro-Québec, 1997 CanLII 318 (SCC), [1997] 3 S.C.R. 213, at para. 127, that “the protection of the environment is a major challenge of our time. It is an international problem, one that requires action by governments at all levels” (emphasis added). His reasons in that case also quoted with approval a passage from Our Common Future, the report produced in 1987 by the United Nations’ World Commission on the Environment and Development. The so-called “Brundtland Commission” recommended that “local governments [should be] empowered to exceed, but not to lower, national norms” (p. 220).


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