This blog was written by Arlene Kwasniak, Professor Emerita of Law and Senior Research Fellow with the Canadian Institute of Resources Law, University of Calgary, in memory of Meinhard Doelle.
December 20, 2022 [posted February 9, 2023]
I first met Meinhard at a Canadian Environmental Network Environmental Planning and Assessment Caucus (RCEN EPA Caucus) meeting decades ago. It was his first I recall- I was a Caucus “regular” by then. From that first meeting it was clear to me that Meinhard was extraordinary – including as a knowledgeable and committed environmentalist, legal and public interest scholar and thinker, contributor, organizer, and doer. Through the years Meinhard became, as Anna Johnson, co-chair of the EPA Caucus, put it, a lynchpin of the Caucus. His accomplishments as a member were innumerable, his influence and stature unquestionable, and he fully deserved the love and respect we all had for him.
Meinhard was also a brilliant advisor to and consultant with multiple levels of government. Commemorative accolades by high-profile politicians evidence this (e.g. by federal Environment and Climate Change Canada Stephen Guilbeault (on Twitter), and Senator Brent Cotter at Senate (<<https://sencanada.ca/en/content/sen/chamber/441/debates/091db_2022-12-13-e#15 >>) In this regard, I remember him most for his incomparable work with the federal Environment Minister’s Regulatory Advisory Committee, formed under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 1992, to advise the federal environmental minister on regulatory and policy matters relating to the CEAA. Besides politely keeping all sector representatives focused and on track, Meinhard would deftly cook up and serve sweet deals between the environmental representatives and industry and others. Regardless of RAC members’ stakeholder affiliations, everyone respected and trusted him. I have not seen such charisma and ability before or since.
Then there is Meinhard’s amazing and prolific scholarship as a law professor and author and talents and influence as a teacher. I am honoured to have worked with him, especially as a co-author of two chapters of Meinhard Doelle and A. John Sinclair (eds), The Next Generation of Impact Assessment- A Critical Review of the Canadian Impact Assessment Act (Toronto: Irwin Law, 2021). Meinhard’s influencing the IAA’s sustainability focus (in contrast to CEAA’s environmental focus) and the detailed spelling out of what that means and how it should happen in the Next Generation publication, will serve and benefit environmental, economic, and social sustainability in Canada indefinitely – forever. What a legacy!
Still cannot believe he is gone. Meinhard’s passing is a huge and painful loss. He was a beloved friend and colleague and an outstanding and effective advocate. He made Canada a better place on many levels.