Roles and Responsibilities of Governments in Natural Resources

Local, municipal, Indigenous, provincial/territorial, and federal governments in Canada all have different powers to manage their respective non-renewable natural and forestry resources.

Federal Government

Section 91 of the Constitution Act, 1867 defines the federal government’s legislative authority. Among other things, Parliament has the exclusive authority to make laws with respect to:

  • regulating trade and commerce,
  • raising money by any mode or system of taxation,
  • navigation and shipping,
  • the sea coast and inland fisheries,
  • Nunavut, and
  • anything not under exclusive provincial jurisdiction.

Provincial/Territorial Governments

The 1982 amendments to the Constitution Act, 1867 explicitly recognized provinces’ and territories’ constitutional rights to manage their own non-renewable natural resources, forestry resources, and electrical energy. This includes the power to levy mining taxes and royalties.

Section 92A stipulates that each province’s legislature can enact laws related to:

  • exploring non-renewable resources, and
  • developing, conserving and managing non-renewable and forestry resources.

As well, provincial legislatures can make laws relating to raising money by any mode or system of taxation with respect to non-renewable natural resources as long as such laws do not result in differential taxation between primary production processed within the province and primary production exported to another part of Canada.

Local, Municipal, and Indigenous Governments

Local and municipal governments are created under provincial law and can make by-laws dealing with a variety of local matters, such as zoning regulations and construction permits. Indigenous governments can exercise a range of government powers over reserve lands and other territories covered by specific agreements negotiated with the federal and provincial governments. Indigenous governance on reserves has many of the same powers and responsibilities as local, municipal, or provincial governments.