...While our legal systems are infused with the notion of equity and fairness between contemporaries, we have yet to embrace the notion that justice should be facilitated between members of different generations. One exception has been in environmental law. For example, many of the provinces and the federal government have enacted “sustainable development” legislation, designed to improve environmental decision-making. The statutes define “sustainable development” as meeting present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
How can we expect better, longer-term decision-making processes when our legal frameworks are still largely reactive and short-term focused? One possibility may be to breathe new life into legal norms that have fallen out of favour over time. For example, the fiduciary duty of trustees includes a duty of impartiality, which should require them to balance short-term and long-term considerations. How many today could defend themselves from a claim that future generations are being dealt with in a less than evenhanded manner? Can they demonstrate that they have identified and impartially considered the conflicting interests of beneficiary groups – present and future?From the Globe and Mail: The next generation gap: equity and fairness by EDWARD WAITZER