Stakeholders vs. Rights Holders in Canada

What is a stakeholder?

Stakeholder refers to an individual or group that derives benefits from the use of resources, is concerned about a particular issue and/or holds legal or de facto rights to manage or make decisions. Key stakeholders often include a mix of user groups (e.g., harvesters, industry, tourism operators), government organizations (at different levels – national, provincial, local) (e.g., Department of Fisheries and Oceans), and civil society organizations (e.g., non-governmental organizations).
Rights holders are not ‘just’ stakeholders to engage. In Canada, Indigenous peoples have constitutionally protected rights and there is a ‘duty to consult’ Indigenous peoples in Canada (e.g., in resource development projects).

What is ‘duty to consult’?

The duty to consult emerges from the recognition and affirmation of Indigenous and treaty rights in section 35(1) of the Constitution Act, 1982. The Government of Canada has a duty to consult, and where appropriate, accommodate Indigenous groups when it considers conduct that might adversely impact potential or established Aboriginal or treaty rights. The requirement applies to the federal, provincial and territorial governments. The duty to consult needs to be integrated into the environmental assessment and regulatory review processes. The duty to consult has been affirmed and clarified by various Supreme Court of Canada rulings, such the Haida case (2004) and the Beckman v. Little Salmon/Carmacks case (2010).

Why engagement is different to duty to consult:

Different understandings among Indigenous communities and dissatisfaction with consultation, has often led to court challenges of project decisions. For example, recently, the Federal Court of Appeal overturned the federal government’s approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline project in 2018, attracting the attention of politicians, media and the public.


Stakeholder and Rights Holder Groups

There are diverse stakeholders and rights holders that should be considered. Both stakeholders and rights holders can also be considered at different scales (e.g., local, national).


Click on the “+” icon to see examples of stakeholder and rights holders subgroups (Adapted from Mazur et al., 2006).


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Building Sustainable Communities: The Impact of Engagement Copyright © 2022 by Ryan Plummer; Amanda Smits; Samantha Witkowski; Bridget McGlynn; Derek Armitage; Ella-Kari Muhl; and Jodi Johnston is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book