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01-07-2008 | Issue 1/2008

Environmental Management 1/2008

Environmental Impact Assessment Under the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act: Deliberative Democracy in Canada’s North?

Journal:
Environmental Management > Issue 1/2008
Authors:
Patricia Fitzpatrick, A. John Sinclair, Bruce Mitchell

Abstract

We consider the extent to which the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act (MVRMA) provides an opportunity for deliberative democracy to emerge within the context of resource management in Canada’s North. The focus is on the extent to which the tenets of deliberative democracy are exercised in the environmental assessment (EA) of the Snap Lake diamonds project. Data collection included semi-structured interviews with assessment participants, and a review of documentation surrounding the EA process, and the case study. Results combined four principles of deliberative democracy: generality, autonomy, power neutrality, and ideal role taking. The EA conducted under the MVRMA can serve as a deliberative process, as illustrated by opportunities for dialogue, access to different perspectives, and learning outcomes. However, many of these positive results occurred through nonmandated technical sessions. The absence of participant funding also limits the deliberative potential of the MVRMA.

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