When it comes to environmental protection, Canadians are like cocaine addicts: they have an insatiable craving for the very thing that made them sick in the first place. Or maybe I should say they’re like a mistreated puppy: they still love and trust the master who beat them, and they keep coming back for more.
The controversy surrounding the K.V.P. pulp and paper mill in the 1940s dramatically illustrates both property owners’ common law rights to clean water and governments’ tendency to override these rights. Three court cases and two laws involving K.V.P. concerned the right of landowners to sue the company for polluting the river adjacent to their land. A brief explanation of “riparian rights” will clarify these cases and the subsequent events.