Crowley says those who oppose certain developments, such as pipelines, are exploiting the concept of social licence to get their way.
“It’s become, in effect, a kind of extra-legal, outside the law way of people who oppose change to get their way in spite of the law”, he says.
The problem, he says, is that social licence is not a common set of rules for establishing that a given project has received the approval of society in general.
Instead it’s become a catch-all concept that opponents can wield against those with whom they disagree.
“Because they’re opponents of the project they can say ‘you don’t have social license because we don’t agree with you’”, he says.
Crowley recently spoke about the concept of social licence at a University of Calgary event. He also authored a column on the subject in the Globe and Mail earlier this year.