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James L.  Thistle

James L. Thistle QC FCIArb


St. John’s
Tel: 709.724.8247
Fax: 709.722.1763



Jim is a Partner in our St. John’s office who practices primarily in public law litigation and resource development. He has significant related experience in aboriginal, construction, environmental, energy and natural resources law. Jim served as Deputy Minister of Justice and Deputy Attorney General for all Newfoundland, subsequently as General Counsel for the Hibernia offshore oil project.  In private practice he has worked on several other major resource projects, in North America and internationally.


Jim is recognized in Best Lawyers in Canada 2012; St. John’s Natural Resource Lawyer of the Year; Administrative and Public Law; Energy Regulatory Law; Environmental Law; Natural Resources Law. In addition, he is recognized in the 2014 Canadian Legal Lexpert® Directory in regards to Construction, Environment, and Forestry Law, and in Who’s Who Legal Canada on Environmental Law. James has been listed as Provincial Litigation Star under Aboriginal, Energy and Natural Resources, and Public Law in Benchmark Canada 2015


As a litigator he has been counsel before all levels of court and tribunals in Canada, and in various Canadian and international arbitration matters. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.





  • Sandy Pond Alliance to Protect Canadian Waters Inc. v. Canada (Attorney General) 2011 FCA 129
  • Sparkes v. Imperial Tobacco Canada Ltd. 2010 NLCA 21, 84 C.P.C. (6th) 63, 911 A.P.R. 267, 295 Nfld. & P.E.I.R. 267
  • Newfoundland & Labrador v. Vinland Resources Ltd. 2008 NLCA 12
  • Imperial Tobacco Co. v. Newfoundland & Labrador (Attorney General) 2007 NLTD 172
  • Fishery Products International Limited v. Stocznia Marynarki Wojennej S.A. London Court of International Arbitration Nov. 2006
  • Newfoundland (Minister of Government Services & Lands) v. Drew (Mi’kmaq Land claim) 260 Nfld. & P.E.I.R. 1, 786 A.P.R. 1, [2007] 1 C.N.L.R. 34 leave to appeal refused SCC
  • A.L. Stuckless & Sons Ltd v. Newfoundland & Labrador (Minister of Forest Resources & Agrifoods) NLCA (2005) 244 Nfld. & P.E.I.R. 298; 12 C.E.L.R. (3d) 165
  • Humber Environmental Action Group v. Canada (Minister of Fisheries & Oceans) 2002 CFPI 421, 46 C.E.L.R. (N.S.) 51, 219 F.T.R. 199
  • A.G. Newfoundland v. Quebec Hydro et. al. [1988] 1 S.C.R.
  • R.W.D.S.U. v. Dolphin Delivery [1986] 2 S.C.R. 573
  • A.G. Newfoundland v. de la Penha (1986) 63 Nfld. & PEIR 356. Leave to appeal denied S.C.C. May 5 1987
  • A.G. Que. v. Greater Hull School Board et. al. [1984] 2 S.C.R. 575
  • Reference re: Newfoundland Continental Shelf [1984] 1 S.C.R. 86
  • Royal Commission on the Ocean Ranger Marine Disaster Counsel for the Province of Newfoundland
  • A.G. Newfoundland et. al. v. A.G. Canada (Constitutional Amendment Case) [1981] 1 S.C.R. 753
  • Sandy Pond Alliance to Protect Canadian Waters Inc. v. Canada (Attorney General) 2011 FCA 129
  • Inquiry No.: NQ-92-007 In the Matter of an Inquiry under section 42  of the Special Import Measures Act respecting: Certain Hot Rolled Carbon Plate Steel Canadian International Trade Tribunal May 6, 1993




  • “Key Federal Energy Statutes – Federal Aspects of Environmental and Energy Regulation in Canada: A Practical Webinar Series Presentation”,   Canadian Bar Association:  National Environmental, Energy and Resources Law Section,  February 21, 2013 
  • “Effective Environmental Dispute Resolution:  the Canadian Experience”, Canadian Bar Association:  National Environmental, Energy and Resources Law Section,  Vancouver 26-27, 2012 Vancouver
  • “Environmental Developments in Atlantic Canada”, James L. Thistle and Amanda Lannon, in Stanley Berger ed. Key Developments in Environmental Law 2011   Toronto: Canada Law Book, 2011
  • “Offshore Oil and Gas:  The Experience From Canada’s East Coast and Lessons for the North”  Canadian Council on International Law 2010 Annual Conference Oct. 30th, 2010
  • “The Economy in Newfoundland and Labrador”  The 2010 Lexpert / American Lawyer Guide to the Leading 500 Lawyers in Canada, Nov. 2009 
  • “Hebron:  What’s Next?” NOIA Conference St. John’s, Nov. 19th, 2008
  • “The Rise of the Newfoundland Market” The 2009 Lexpert / American Lawyer Guide to the Leading 500 Lawyers in Canada, Nov. 2008 
  • “Alternative Dispute Resolution”  Controlling Risk in Large Construction Projects Canadian Bar Association: National Construction Section, Banff, Alberta April 200
  • “Canada’s East Coast Offshore:  Current Issues” Canadian Bar Association National Environmental, Energy and Resources Law Section  Ottawa, Ont. Sept. 29th, 2005.
  • “Corporate Governance in the Not for Profit Sector:  Directors and Officers Issues”  Deloitte Conference  St. John’s, April 19th, 2005.
  • “The Hutton Garnet Beaches Northern Labrador”  Canadian Conference on Markets for Industrial Minerals, Toronto, Oct. 19th 2004.
  • “Offshore Construction Jurisdiction Issues” Canadian Bar Association, National Construction Law Section  Halifax May 14th, 2004.
  • “Key Issues in the New Regime of Occupational Health and Safety”   Dalhousie Law Journal Vol. 26, No. 2,  p. 631 – 647
  • “The Offshore Regime: Concocting the Atlantic Accord” NOIA conference, St. John’s, April 16th, 2003.
  • “Understanding Environmental Regulations: Newfoundland Environmental Legislation” Educational Program Innovations Centre St. John’s, April 7th, 2003.
  • “Public Policy Issues in East Coast Canada’s Offshore”  International Law Section, Canadian Bar Association, Calgary, Feb. 1, 2001
  • “Offshore Oil and Gas Regulation” Director General Petroleum Concessions;  Islamabad Pakistan, Nov. 27,  2000
  • “Past Experience and Lessons Learned: Hibernia” OTANS Conference Halifax N.S. Oct. 4, 2000
  • “Partnering/Alliance Contracting: Practical Applications of Emerging Project Structures”, Canadian Bar Association: National Construction Section, Halifax N.S. May 1998
  • “Effective Joint Management: A Key to Successful Alliance Contracting”, Oil Works Atlantic Canada, February 1997


“In McInnes Cooper’s St John’s office, James Thistle QC brings ‘exceptional’ energy and public law knowledge to the table in his resource development and environmental litigation work”. – Who’s Who Legal



  • B.A. (Hons.), Memorial University of Newfoundland
  • J.D., Osgoode Hall Law School
  • M.Phil., Memorial University of Newfoundland
  • LL.M., Osgoode Hall Law School
Legal Update: Feds Amend Triggers for Environmental Assessments
November 25, 2013

On November 6, 2013 amendments to the Regulations Designating Physical Activities under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 took effect. The Regulations determine whether a project triggers a requirement for a federal environmental assessment.   Prior and current amendments reflect a significant shift in federal environmental policy. The prior statutory amendments generally reduced the federal

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Legal Update: Moore v. British Columbia (Education): Students with Learning Disabilities Have a Right to Education Comparable to that of the General Student Population
January  8, 2013

On November 19, 2012, the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) unanimously ruled a B.C. public school system’s failure to provide adequate and meaningful access to education to a student with severe dyslexia was discriminatory. The SCC found, based on the applicable BC legislation, that:   “education” is a service customarily available to the public; and

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Bar Admissions

Newfoundland & Labrador (1979)



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