Ralph Cuervo-Lorens Photo
Ralph Cuervo-Lorens Photo
Ralph Cuervo-Lorens Photo

A leading lawyer practising environmental law and regulatory compliance. Ralph assists clients in the manufacturing, construction, transportation, energy and mining industries on environmental risk-management, mitigation, permitting, impact assessment and compliance. Ralph’s advocacy and dispute resolution practice focuses on the management and resolution of complex regulatory, business and commercial disputes across a broad spectrum of areas including white collar fraud, environmental, taxation, procurement, and Indigenous.

In his environmental law practice, Ralph focuses on regulatory matters, corporate social responsibility and environmental risk-management, mitigation, permitting, impact assessment and compliance. He provides expert counsel on risk assessment, disclosure, issue management, reporting, decommissioning, Indigenous consultation and accommodation, emergency responses, as well as remedial and clean-up obligations and plans. In addition, Ralph provides support at a senior level in the environmental area to the firm’s M&A, real estate, insolvency and securities practices including due diligence and negotiation and drafting of complex environmental provisions such as representations and warranties, indemnities and limitation of liability in all types of corporate, commercial and banking agreements.

Ralph acts as defence counsel in quasi-criminal prosecutions under a wide range of federal and provincial regulatory and taxation statutes. Trained in ADR and a fellow of The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (U.K.), Ralph has served as court-appointed independent supervising counsel and has been appointed by parties as settlement counsel in complex commercial litigation.

Appearing regularly before the Ontario Provincial Court, Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice and Court of Appeal, Ralph also appears before the Federal Court of Canada, the Tax Court of Canada, various regulatory boards and tribunals as well as municipal planning boards and councils in provinces across Canada.

Representative Matters

Regulatory & Dispute Resolution

  • Defence counsel in federal prosecution in connection with ocean cargo terminal works
  • Litigation counsel to public mining company in multi-million dollar lawsuit against Province of Ontario arising from failure to discharge aboriginal duty to consult in context of mineral exploration
  • Counsel to commodity supplier in Target Canada CCAA proceedings
  • Counsel in Charter of Rights and Freedoms application arising from improper interrogation of corporate directors
  • Counsel to commodity supplier in Sears Canada CCAA proceedings
  • Counsel in breach of non-competition agreement litigation in municipal contracting
  • Litigation counsel to affected property owners in first time challenge of wind farm project on heritage grounds before Environmental Review Tribunal and related Judicial Review
  • Canadian litigation counsel to Direct Energy
  • Litigation counsel to Spanish multi-national in defence of multi- million product liability case arising from tainted health supplements
  • Litigation counsel to Italian medical equipment retailer in dispute over termination of distributorship agreement
  • Litigation counsel on behalf of professional athlete in lawsuit against financial advisor and mutual fund company
  • Counsel to Canadian public mining company on federal environmental assessment issues arising from re-opening of historic gold mine
  • Environmental, regulatory and country risk counsel to Northgate Minerals in bid for competitor and subsequent sale to AuRico Gold involving gold and silver mines in Mexico
  • Regulatory counsel to Ontario’s largest waste management and diversion firm
  • Co-counsel to Asea, Brown, Boveri (ABB) in connection with environmental (and related Freedom of Information) matters relating to manufacturing operations, PCB storage and divestitures
  • Environmental counsel to TD Bank
  • Defence counsel to multinational consultant firm in federal environmental prosecution that resulted in withdrawn charges
  • Environmental and litigation counsel to marquee Canadian fast food company
  • Defence counsel on behalf of insurer in favourable resolution of charges under Ontario’s Safe Drinking Water Act against camp operator
  • Counsel to Domtar Inc. in connection with landfill closure, environmental enforcement proceedings, environmental assessments, audits, approvals, control orders, risk management and environmental audit work
  • Counsel to U.S. client in defence of regulatory proceeding before Environmental Review Tribunal arising from recycler contamination of Rouge River Watershed in national park sensitive environmental area
  • Environmental and litigation counsel to international lending consortium in connection with financing of electric power generating station
  • Environmental counsel to buyer on purchase of electrical utility
  • Aboriginal duty to consult and environmental counsel to one of the winners in Ontario’s renewable energy supply contract bid process, in connection with wind farm development
  • Represented Ministry of the Environment provincial officer at Walkerton Inquiry into deaths by contaminated town water supply
  • Represented U.S.-based lenders in environmental aspects of financing of pulp and paper and steel mills with wide-scale environmental impacts
  • Environmental compliance advice to a variety of companies such as IBM, Pratt & Whitney, Bank of Montreal, BP Canada, Schlumberger and Eaton Corporation
  • Environmental counsel to a large Canadian oil and gas distribution client regarding Ontario pipeline relocation
  • Environmental counsel in wind farm and water treatment plant portfolio acquisitions
  • Advising a variety of clients in connection with the remediation and disposition of contaminated lands, including warranty, clean up, risk assessment, and other contract and tort claims
  • Acting as litigation plaintiff and defence counsel on soil contamination claims, including contaminated development properties, service stations, industrial land and brownfield developments
  • Advising IBM Inc., Eaton-Yale, and Logitech Inc. in connection with environmental regulated product issues
  • Advising Hyundai Auto Canada in federal emission standards case
  • Advising Toyota North America in connection with environmental export/import compliance issues
  • Environmental Counsel to Goldcorp Inc. in a variety of environmental regulation and litigation issues including provincial prosecutions arising from mine expansion at Red Lake, Ontario
  • Counsel for Domtar Inc. in prosecutions under the federal Fisheries Act arising from waterway pollution
  • Counsel to Salvation Army in a variety of contaminated land cases
  • Counsel to Chicago-based client in resolution of multi-million dollar litigation against Dow Chemical arising from the largest PCB contaminated area in the province involving clean-up costs in the range of $20 to $90 million
  • Defence Counsel in challenge to Fire Marshall’s order arising from fire at recycler facility
  • Defence counsel to large Canadian mining company in resolution of environmental prosecution on the eve of public announcement of large acquisition on the part of the client
  • Defended regulatory proceedings at trial and appellate levels on behalf of Domtar
  • Acted in litigation against Ministry of the Environment arising from improper registration on title of notice certificate in connection with industrial clean-up site
  • Advised U.S. investment bank in negotiating with Ministry of Environment in connection with purchase and re-start of chemical plant out of insolvency
  • Represented waste disposal transfer station client in environmental appeal by adjacent land owners including Environmental Bill of Rights issues
  • Advised international computer companies on blue box, e- waste, recycling and the management of toxic substances
  • Ontario environmental counsel to Pratt & Whitney Canada

Risk Management and CSR

  • Risk management advice in Fire Marshall investigation and third party litigation arising from catastrophic fire at manufacturing facility
  • Advice on risk management issues at Mexican subsidiary of mid-sized Canadian gold producer
  • Crisis management and crisis supervision to major Canadian public company in connection with spill that threatened town drinking water supply
  • Risk management counsel in relation to environmental impacts from fire at recycler facility
  • Country risk counsel to Canadian public mining company in bid for competitor and subsequent sale involving several mines in Mexico
  • Preparation of environmental risk management programs for manufacturing, property development and banking clients
  • Acting for national property management companies as environmental and risk management counsel
  • Advised Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator on case arising from interplay between electricity supply obligations and prevention of harm to the environment
  • Providing general advice regarding electromagnetic radiation and other nuisances in connection with transmission lines

White Collar Fraud

  • Counsel to large municipality in the GTA in prosecution of $20M civil fraud case against manager and third parties, including advising on issues arising from related criminal prosecution
  • Counsel in municipal procurement litigation arising from provincial Auditor’s Report
  • Counsel to purchaser, director and shareholder in civil litigation case against former shareholder and director alleging fraud and misrepresentation in the share sale of manufacturing business
  • Counsel to US based clients in B.C. Mareva injunction proceedings in payments processing industry
  • Court-appointed Independent Counsel in Anton Piller injunction proceedings arising from theft of confidential business information
  • Counsel to Lite-On, a Taiwanese computer multinational, in multimillion dollar fraud at its Mexican subsidiary
  • Counsel to Salvation Army in enforcement of civil fraud judgement arising from multimillion dollar employee defalcation
  • Counsel to international hotel chain in employee defalcation case

Tax Dispute Resolution 

  • Litigation counsel to multi-national European manufacturer in taxation dispute
  • Litigation counsel to Canadian affiliate of US manufacturer in internal fraud case resulting in historical underpayment of income tax
  • Counsel to industrial property owner in successful realty tax appeal on the basis of historical environmental contamination
  • Counsel to industrial manufacturer and one of its officers in multi-million dollar audit and tax evasion prosecution
  • Litigation counsel to commercial property developer in multi- million dollar land transfer tax dispute
  • Litigation counsel to shareholders of entertainment company in income attribution case
  • Counsel to manufacturing company in defence of tax assessment arising from incorrect expense reporting
  • Defence counsel in successful defence at trial and appeal of retail sales tax prosecution of transportation company and one of its directors
  • Tax litigation counsel to property developer in challenge of property tax assessment arising from sale of commercial property portfolio
  • Defence counsel in tax evasion prosecution against manufacturing company in relation to improper posting of company expenses
  • Litigation counsel in multi-million dollar realty tax appeals arising from incorrect valuation on account of contamination

Aboriginal Law

  • Environmental and regulatory counsel to First Nations in relation to land claim treaty negotiation with Canada and Ontario
  • Aboriginal duty to consult counsel to Renewable Energy Systems Canada, winners in Ontario’s renewable energy supply contract bid process, in connection with development of two wind farms
  • Counsel to First Nations in pipeline related proceedings before the National Energy Board
  • Litigation Counsel to Metis Nation of Ontario, Metis Nation of Alberta, Metis Nation of B.C. and Metis Nation of Saskatchewan on national Metis governance issues

Alternative Dispute Resolution – neutral

  • ADR counsel in a variety of insurance, environmental, banking and commercial disputes
  • Settlement Counsel in multi-million dollar contaminated land case
  • International commercial chartered arbitrator
  • Court appointed supervising counsel

Speaking Engagements

Panelist, Lease Arbitration Clauses, ICSC Annual Conference

April 28, 2017

Judge, Willms & Shier Environmental Law Bi-annual Moot Court Competition

March 4, 2017

Panelist, Cambridge Environmental Law Forum

January 27, 2016

Advanced Environmental Law Practitioner Roundtable, Canadian Bar Association

June 4, 2015

Panelist, Lease Arbitration Clauses, ICSC Annual Conference 2015

April 14, 2015

Practice Judge, Willms & Shier Environmental Law Moot

March 1, 2015

Speaker, Spills Response – Legal Liability Issues and Strategies

April 28, 2014

Speaker, Negotiating Leases in High Risk Sites

March 27, 2014

Speaker, Responses to 21st Century Resource Nationalism in Mexico, PDAC

March 3, 2014

Speaker, Advisors, Advice and Professionalization, Advocis Annual Conference

October 28, 2013
Read more


Media Mentions

  • Mining for the Truth in Guatemala, Maclean’s, July 8, 2014
  • Ralph Cuervo-Lorens Quoted in SNL Metals & Mining, March 13, 2014

Community Involvement

  • Judge, Wilson Moot Competition
  • Practice Judge, VIS International Commercial Arbitration Moot
  • Pro Bono work for a variety of organizations

Directorships & Affiliations

  • Attends the invitation-only, closed-door annual Cambridge Forum for senior environmental practitioners on environmental law
  • Institute of Corporate Directors
  • Law Society of Ontario
  • Ontario Bar Association
  • American Bar Association
  • Energy Bar Association
  • The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (U.K.)
  • Canadian Council of the Americas
  • Editor-in-chief, Faculty of Law, Queen’s Law Journal (1988- 1989)
  • Contributing Editor, Carswell’s Practice Cases

Education & Admissions

Called to the Ontario bar
FCIArb The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (U.K.)
"Get on Board" Governance ProgramCanadian Board Diversity Council
Advanced Mediation TrainingJAMS
Arbitration and Mediation Institute of Ontario Inc.
MAUniversity of Toronto
LLM (cand.)Osgoode Hall Law School
LLBQueen's University
BAUniversity of Victoria


Insights (45 Posts)View More

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Legal Risk Assessments – An Essential Risk Management Tool

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May 9, 2024
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Warning For Businesses: Companies Can be Liable for Tort of Bribery Even if They Did Not Intend to Pay or Receive a Bribe

Businesses with a duty to provide impartial advice must take steps to ensure the payments they make or receive are not later interpreted as bribes.

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Apr 12, 2024
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Environmental Law: Recent Developments in Canada

Join McMillan on Tuesday, April 16th for a webinar highlighting recent developments in the Canadian environmental law landscape.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Administrative Monetary Penalties: Regulators “AMP-ing” up the Pressure on Businesses

Administrative Monetary Penalties are increasingly used to sanction regulatory non-compliance in Canada. What are they and what should you do if faced with one?

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Mar 19, 2024
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SCC Reference re Impact Assessment Act: A step in the right direction for the mining industry

On October 13, 2023, the SCC ruled that certain core provisions of Canada's Impact Assessment Act and its Physical Activities Regulations were unconstitutional.

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Jan 9, 2024
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Net Zero Plans Deserve Closer Attention Than They Are Getting

This bulletin provides guidance for companies on practices around net zero plans

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Nov 29, 2023
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Supreme Court of Canada Rules Impact Assessment Act Unconstitutional: Implications and Future Directions

Overview of the Supreme Court's ruling of the constitutionality of the Impact Assessment Act and its implications on the energy and natural resource sectors.

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Nov 1, 2023
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Navigating to a Sustainable Energy Future: “Inefficient” Fossil Fuel Subsidies

This bulletin discusses the Government of Canada's recently-announced strategy to phase-out "inefficient" fossil fuel subsidies.

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Aug 2, 2023
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Alberta’s Carbon Pricing Emissions Trading System: Criminal Charges Laid

This bulletin discusses recent criminal charges brought under Alberta's emissions reporting and reduction legislation.

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Aug 1, 2023
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ESG Not Just ESG

This bulletin discusses the push for the inclusion of Indigenous considerations in ESG practices which could lead to the addition of "I" (ESGI).

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Jul 25, 2023
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ESG Class Actions and Other Lawsuits “Sustainable” into 2023

Recent ESG litigation developments in Canada and what we can expect to see in the near future.

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Jun 14, 2023
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Environment Canada’s State of PFAS Report: insights into the future regulation of “forever chemicals”

The publication of the Draft State of PFAS Report marks a good step toward the development of additional PFAS regulations in Canada.

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Jun 8, 2023
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The Fisheries Act – Not just for fishermen!

This bulletin discusses the application of the Fisheries Act, a federal environmental statute whose far-reaching scope is often

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Apr 21, 2023
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The Polluter Does Not Always Pay: Environmental Liability of Property Owners

We explore the three primary situations in which a landowner can be held civilly liable for environmental contamination on or sourced in its property.

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Apr 18, 2023
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April 2023 Update: Amendments to the Prohibition on the Purchase of Residential Property by Non-Canadians Regulations Provide Increased Deal Certainty for Commercial Real Estate Industry

The Prohibition on the Purchase of Residential Property by Non-Canadians Act (the “Act”) and regulations (the “Regulations”) came into force on January 1, 2023.

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Apr 4, 2023
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Settlement Counsel – valuable addition to the dispute-resolution toolkit

Settlement Counsel is litigation counsel engaged for the sole purpose of resolving a dispute or settling a case.

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Mar 28, 2023
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Broadening the Environmental Enforcement Toolkit: Ontario Expands Administrative Monetary Penalty Regime for Environmental Violations

Ontario is broadening its existing administrative monetary penalties (AMPs) regime for environmental violations.

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Feb 28, 2023
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Canada Enacts New Reporting Requirements under the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program

This bulletin highlights key new reporting requirements under the federal Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program.

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Feb 8, 2023
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Just the Facts Please! A Discussion of Limitation Periods for Environmental Claims

This Bulletin considers how limitation periods apply to environmental claims in Ontario and how to reduce the risk of missing one.

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Feb 2, 2023
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Green or Grey: Regulators Target Greenwashing, Misleading Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Claims

An overview of risks and best practices for companies in relation to environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) claims and disclosure.

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Oct 19, 2022
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Plan for the Ban: Canada Proposes Plastic Labelling Rules and Federal Plastics Registry

Canada publishes two open consultation papers related to labeling regulations and a federal plastics registry for single-use plastics and plastic packaging.

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Sep 14, 2022
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Canada Catching Up on Regulation of PFAS Substances

An update on Canada's regulation of PFAS substances, in comparison to US and European regulation

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Jul 20, 2022
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Developers Beware: Changes to O. Reg. 242/08 Under the Endangered Species Act and What They Mean for Projects Already Underway

Companies may be affected by updated requirements under the Endangered Species Act, including prohibitions on harming new species at risk and related exemptions.

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Jul 5, 2022
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Canada’s Greenhouse Gas Offset Credit System Creates Green Incentives for Regulated Facilities (Update)

Canada has published the Greenhouse Gas Offset Credit System Regulations establishing a system for projects preventing or removing GHGs from the atmosphere.

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Jun 21, 2022
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Jurisdictional Battle Over The Environment Continues – Canada’s Impact Assessment Legislation Found Unconstitutional

On May 10, 2022, the Alberta Court of Appeal ruled that the federal Impact Assessment Act and related Physical Activities Regulations are unconstitutional.

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May 25, 2022
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We Have a DPA: Prosecutors Agree to Deferred Prosecution Agreement With SNC-Lavalin

Canadian prosecutors have for the first time agreed to a deferred prosecution agreement with a Canadian company.

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May 16, 2022
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Canada-U.S. Agree to Agree on Data Share Deal: Prosecution of Cross-border Criminal Cases to Become Easier

Canada and the United States have agreed to negotiate a bilateral data sharing agreement to assist cross-border criminal investigations.

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Apr 1, 2022
Featured Insight

Canada Makes Changes to Cross-border Hazardous Waste and Recycling Requirements

On February 26, 2021, Canada enacted the Cross-border Movement of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material Regulations.

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Aug 4, 2021
Featured Insight

Plan for the Ban:
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Under Canadian Environmental Protection Act

Plastics are classified under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act as a toxic substance and amendments are proposed to prohibit the export of plastic waste

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Jul 20, 2021
Featured Insight

Canada’s new mandatory 100% ZEV target is a rapid charge forward.
What we think this announcement means for OEMs, Canadian industry, and more

Canada has announced a mandatory 2035 target for 100% ZEV sales. McMillan and McMillan Vantage Policy Group share what this may mean for OEMs, industry and more.

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Jul 12, 2021
Featured Insight

The Balancing of Privacy Rights and the Open Court Principle: Disclosure of Private Information in Litigation

The Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Sherman Estate v Donovan offers clarity on when the open court principle will give ground to the right to privacy.

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Jun 23, 2021
Featured Insight

Land Use Compatibility, Odour Guidelines and More: Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks Announces Four New Proposals for 2021

The Ontario government has announced that it is moving forward with proposals for four new initiatives relating to the protection of Ontario's environment.

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Jun 21, 2021
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Significant Changes to Canada’s Federal Environmental Protection Regime Proposed

The government of Canada is proposing significant changes to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 through the introduction of Bill C-28.

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Apr 28, 2021
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Canada’s Federal Greenhouse Gas Offset Credit System Creates Green Incentives for Regulated Facilities

Publication of Greenhouse Gas Offset Credit System Regulations under section 195 of the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act.

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Apr 7, 2021
Featured Insight

Supreme Court of Canada Upholds Federal Carbon Pricing Regime

In a decision released March 25, 2021, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act is constitutional.

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Mar 29, 2021
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Fueling the Future: Canada’s Plan to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions under the Clean Fuel Regulations

The federal government's proposed Clean Fuel Regulations will require the gradual reduction in the carbon intensity of fossil fuels supplied in Canada.

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Mar 26, 2021
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The Quick and Dirty on Ontario’s New Excess Soil Regulations

A concise summary of Ontario's new excess soil regulation (O.Reg 406/19) and key takeaways for affected parties.

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Jan 25, 2021
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Canada Legally Commits to Net-Zero Emissions by 2050

Canada Legally Commits to Net-Zero Emissions by 2050

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Dec 7, 2020
Featured Insight

Cannabis and Waste: Another “Green” Opportunity

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Nov 27, 2020
Featured Insight

Ontario’s New Blue Box Regulations Shift Consumer Product End-of-life Responsibilities to Producers

Ontario's proposed regulation would transition the current Blue Box Program to an extended producer responsibility ("EPR") model.

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Nov 10, 2020
Featured Insight

Expropriation of Contaminated Land and its Fair Market Valuation

Expropriation of Contaminated Land and its Fair Market Valuation

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Oct 5, 2020
Featured Insight

Cross-Country Check-In: COVID-19 and the Environment

Canada's governmental and regulatory bodies have taken steps to temporarily alter legal requirements in light of COVID-19 to lessen the burden on businesses.

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Sep 10, 2020
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July 24, 2020 Update Cross-Country Check-In: COVID-19 and the Environment

Canada's governmental and regulatory bodies have taken steps to temporarily alter legal requirements in light of COVID-19 to lessen the burden on businesses.

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Jul 24, 2020
Featured Insight

Canadian White-collar Crime Perspectives: Government Investigations and COVID-19

This piece explores the likely impact of COVID-19 on white-collar crime issues in Canada and how regulators are reacting to the pandemic.

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Apr 16, 2020
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COVID-19: “Essential” Information About the Consequences of Continuing to Operate a “Non-Essential Business” in Ontario and Québec

An outline of the potential consequences to continuing to operate a business ordered to close by the governments of Quebec and Ontario.

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Mar 25, 2020

Deals & Cases (2 Posts)

Featured Insight

Novacap acquires majority stake in Foliot Furniture

McMillan LLP was involved in all facets of the transaction and provided multi-disciplinary advice to Novacap with a team led by Charles Chevrette and Enda Wong (Corporate & M&A).

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Nov 30, 2019
Featured Insight

AmerCareRoyal, LLC Acquiers McNairn Packaging

On November 25, 2019, AmerCareRoyal, LLC (“ACR”) announced its acquisition of McNairn Packaging, a leading provider and manufacturer of speciality paper packaging products to the foodservices industry in the North American market.

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Nov 25, 2019