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

Image: Arrow Lakes Historical Society
Historic Kootenay hot springs

The hot springs is running with reduced operations to meet government COVID-19 protocols

The 1100-block of Pine Avenue in downtown Trail is closed to traffic this week as crews from Seko Construction install water and sewer service connections for the new gas station slated to open this summer. Photo: Sheri Regnier
Traffic change in downtown Trail this week

The 1100-block of Pine Avenue is closed to vehicles

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Interior Health announces 89 cases of COVID-19 in the region

Currently, there are 900 active cases in the region

The Trail Smoke Eaters fell 6-1 to the Penticton Vees on Sunday, their third loss to the perennial BCHL powerhouse six games into the 20-game season. Photo: Stephen Piccolo
Penticton Vees dominant in win over Trail Smoke Eaters

Trail Smoke Eaters enjoy two day break until their fourth meeting with Penticton Vees on Wednesday

Kalesnikoff Lumber will be providing materials for a 21-storey apartment building in Vancouver. Rendering: Henriquez Partners Architects
Kalesnikoff supplying mass timber for several major projects

The West Kootenay lumber company will be making the products at South Slocan facility

St. Joseph School Grade 2 student Zoe Kenny watches as Christopher Yates shows her how to string a new drum using hide from his own cows. Photo: Tyler Harper
VIDEO: With good intentions, Nelson school builds Métis drum

The St. Joseph School project is directed by parent Christopher Yates

A youth was arrested following a car crash on Wallace Street on Saturday, April 10. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Onlookers laugh and jeer as B.C. teen beaten, then forced to strip and walk home

Police arrest older teen, call video shared on social media ‘disturbing’

A lady wears a sticker given out after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count slows after last week’s peak

3,219 new cases since Friday, 18 additional deaths

North Cowichan councillor Tek Manhas did not violate the municipality’s code of conduct by posting a sexist meme on Facebook, council concludes. (File photo)
B.C. municipality to take no action against councillor who posted sexist meme

Tek Manhas’s meme doesn’t violate North Cowichan council’s code of conduct, municipality concludes

—Image: contributed
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians says that includes attempts to steal Canadian research on COVID-19 and vaccines, and sow misinformation. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
Intelligence committee warns China, Russia targeting Canadian COVID-19 research

Committee also found that the terrorist threat to Canada has shifted since its last such assessment

Part of the massive mess left behind in a Spallumcheen rental home owned by Wes Burden, whose tenants bolted from the property in the middle of the night. Burden is now facing a hefty cleaning and repair bill as a result. (Photo submitted)
Tenants disappear in the night leaving Okanagan home trashed with junk, feces

Spallumcheen rental rooms filled with junk, human and animal feces; landlord scared to rent again

Parliament Hill is viewed below a Canada flag in Gatineau, Quebec, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. A new poll suggests most Canadians are feeling more grateful for what they have in 2020 as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions increased slightly in 2019: report

2019 report shows Canada emitted about one million tonnes more of these gases than the previous year

Most Read