People march during a climate strike in Montreal, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

People march during a climate strike in Montreal, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Judge rejects 15 youths’ climate change lawsuit against Canadian government

Justice Michael Manson has granted the government’s motion to strike the plaintiffs’ claim

A group of youth attempting to take the federal government to court over its contributions to climate change will have to take their request to a higher court, after a federal court judge struck down the claim.

Justice Michael Manson has granted the government’s motion to strike the plaintiffs’ claim, saying in a written ruling Thursday (Oct. 27) that the claims don’t have a reasonable cause of action or prospect of success.

A lawyer for the youths outlined during a court hearing in September the negative impact of extreme weather events such as floods and rising temperatures on his clients’ physical and mental health as well as their homes, cultural heritage and hopes for the future.

READ MORE: 15 Canadian youths to sue Ottawa for not acting on climate change

The young people across Canada, who range in age from 10 to 19 years old, claimed greenhouse gas emissions in particular have led to changes in the environment through the federal government’s alleged support of fossil fuel exploration and extraction.

They also say subsidies to the fossil fuel industry and the acquisition of the Trans Mountain Pipeline highlight Canada’s failure to fulfill its own commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Manson says that while he understands the claim that climate change has a disproportionate impact on children and youth, he does not accept the allegation that the federal government is violating their charter rights.

Sophia Sidarous, one of the youth plaintiffs, called the decision “a big wake-up call for all Canadian and Indigenous youth. Canada has tried to silence our voice in court and block our calls for climate justice.

“We won’t be dissuaded. I, along with my co-plaintiffs, will continue to fight for the Charter rights of all Canadian and Indigenous youth to hold Canada accountable.”

View this post on Instagram

BREAKING: Today, Justice Michael D. Manson denied the 15 youth plaintiffs in La Rose v. Her Majesty the Queen their day in court. The youth must now go to a higher court before proceeding to trial. Closing the courthouse doors to children is a great injustice. These youth rely on the judiciary to protect their rights, their lives, and their future. With the clock ticking on a climate catastrophe, we must act now. The courts have a responsibility to these young Canadians to protect them and hold those endangering their lives accountable. While today’s ruling shows judicial cowardice and an abandonment of the court’s role, we are nowhere near the end for this historic case. In partnership with their Canadian attorneys, the David Suzuki Foundation, and the Pacific Centre for Environmental Law and Litigation (CELL), we will continue to fight on behalf of these young plaintiffs. We are determined, we are steadfast, and we are on the right side of justice. And now we will appeal. Read our press release with quotes from several of the young plaintiffs here: https://bit.ly/37IzXIh (link also in bio) #youthvgov #YouthvGovCanada

A post shared by Our Children's Trust (@youthvgov) on

The La Rose case asked the court to declare that Canada is interfering with the youth’s Charter rights to life, liberty, security of the person and equality, and calls on the court to order the government to prepare and implement a plan to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions in a manner consistent with the best available science.

“I am incredibly disheartened by the court’s ruling,” said youth plaintiff Lauren Wright, 16. “As a young Canadian whose rights are being violated, having the court grant the government’s motion to strike is very upsetting, and I feel that my rights to a safe and healthy future are not being taken seriously by those in power.”

ALSO READ: B.C. teen leads effort to fight climate change

In his ruling, Justice Manson said his concern was not that the plaintiffs are asking that the court “consider a network of Canada’s actions and inactions related to climate change, but with the undue breadth and diffuse nature of that network, which puts Canada’s overall policy choices at issue.”

Justice Manson added that, although the case would be “based on scientific data and the assessment of that data,” he believed the questions raised in the case “are so political that the Courts are incapable or unsuited to deal with them.”

David Suzuki Foundation CEO Stephen Cornish said in a statement that the court battle is far from over.

“These brave young plaintiffs aren’t done calling for an adequate, science-based climate recovery plan in Canada. They know we only have a decade to turn things around and that, so far, we’re not on track. These kids are on the right side of history. They deserve their day in court.”


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Climate change

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

National Police Week runs May 9-15, 2021, and Vernon North Okanagan RCMP will be highlighting some of its great work on its social media platforms to celebrate its relationships with community groups and stakeholders. (Contribtued)
Collaboration crucial in police work: Vernon Mounties

National Police Week is a public awareness campaign encouraging new and strengthened connections

(Pixabay photo)
Morning Start: Sharks have been around longer than trees

Your morning start for Tuesday, May 11, 2021

BC Coroners Service logo, no date, stock photo
Police probe Lake Country man’s sudden death on parkway

Pelmewash Parkway was partially closed yesterday while RCMP, Coroners investigated

Members of the Vernon Kalamalka Chorus sing in their cars, tuned into the radio, under the direction of Debbie Parmenter. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
VIDEO: Vernon choir steers around COVID with ‘carbershop’ twist

Singers find a unique way to practice during pandemic restrictions

The southern mountain caribou, an iconic species for the Splatsin First Nation, is threatened with extinction, much to the dismay of the First Nation. (Province of B.C. photo)
Splatsin First Nation concerned over dwindling caribou herd

Southern mountain caribou at risk of extinction, will struggle to recover without habitat protection and restoration action - report

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about phase two in B.C.’s COVID-19 immunization plan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
All of B.C. will eventually ease out of COVID-19 restrictions at same time: Henry

People who have received two doses of a vaccine can’t yet return to post-pandemic activities with each other, she says

Winnipeg Jets’ Andrew Copp (9) and Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith (41) watch an incoming shot during second period NHL action in Winnipeg, Monday, April 26, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
‘Very jealous’: Canadian teams can’t take advantage of NHL’s relaxed COVID-19 rules

League eased some tight COVID-19 health and safety protocols over the weekend for fully vaccinated clubs

A map of Huu-ay-aht-owned forestry cutblock. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
B.C. First Nations restrict access to territory in wake of forestry standoffs

Huu-ay-aht set up checkpoints after heated and dangerous incidents on southwest Vancouver Island

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a ‘person of interest’ in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
RCMP identify ‘person of interest’ in Kootenay National Park suspicious death

Police are looking for Philip Toner, who was known to a woman found dead near Radium last week

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko (35) makes a save on Winnipeg Jets’ Nate Thompson (11) during second period NHL action in Winnipeg, Monday, May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Vancouver Canucks see NHL playoff hopes dashed despite 3-1 win over Winnipeg

Montreal Canadiens earn final North Division post-season spot

Kelowna resident Sally Wallick helped rescue a kayaker in distress a week and a half ago. (Sally Wallick/Contributed)
VIDEO: Kelowna woman rescues capsized kayaker in Okanagan Lake

Sally Wallick is asking people to be prepared for the cold water and unpredictable winds

The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)
B.C. election law could add 6 seats, remove rural protection

North, Kootenays could lose seats as cities gain more

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of an Indigenous woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation wants ‘massive change’ after its 3rd police shooting in less than a year

Nuu-chah-nulth woman recovering from gunshot wounds in weekend incident near Ucluelet

Most Read