Fighting to uphold federal jurisdiction over climate change action

Saskatchewan and Ontario are attempting to derail a federal carbon price through the courts, and Ecojustice has been given leave to intervene in their cases.

A judicial reference posed by the Government of Saskatchewan to the province’s Court of Appeal asks: The Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act was introduced into Parliament on March 28, 2018 as Part 5 of Bill C-74. If enacted, will this Act be unconstitutional in whole or in part?

If the Court finds that the legislation is constitutional, it confirms Ottawa can tax fuels and substances leading to carbon emissions. If the Court finds that a significant portion is unconstitutional, it probably means Ottawa’s approach to curbing emissions is not valid.

Ecojustice has been given leave to intervene in Saskatchewan and Ontario cases in support of the federal government. Ecojustice lawyers will represent the David Suzuki Foundation and the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation in the Saskatchewan reference case, which will be heard in February 2019.  In the Ontario case, Ecojustice has been given leave to intervene on behalf of the David Suzuki Foundation, while its request to intervene on behalf of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation is still being considered.

Ontario has announced it will intervene in support of Saskatchewan. Meanwhile, British Columbia announced it will intervene in both the Ontario and Saskatchewan cases and argue that the federal government has a right and responsibility to address greenhouse gas emissions. Provinces are automatically granted intervener status should they wish to intervene.

Why is Ecojustice involved?

Climate change is a national emergency that requires an urgent response. Ecojustice is fighting to ensure the federal government has the ability to respond to that emergency.

Protecting the environment is a shared federal and provincial responsibility. Provinces across Canada should be required to work towards implementing a fair system that holds polluters to account for putting communities and the climate at risk by increasing greenhouse gas pollution in our atmosphere.

Canada will not be able to meet its international commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions if provinces are allowed to opt out of taking action.

What would a win mean?

What’s at stake is nothing less than the federal government’s ability to respond to climate change, a national emergency. Climate change will affect the health and security of all Canadians, and only a short window of time remains to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Everyone in Canada deserves the security of safe climate, and no province should be allowed to put that at risk through their inaction.

Photo of a prairie stormscape near Churchbridge, Saskatchewan, by Dave Sills via Flickr. Image obtained under Creative Commons.

Case Categories
Case Status
In Progress

Fighting to uphold federal jurisdiction over climate change action

In Progress

Fighting to ensure B.C. follows environmental assessment laws for unauthorized dams

In Progress

Protecting pollinators from neonicotinoids

In Progress

Challenging Ontario’s gutting of cap and trade program

Closed

Fighting for emergency protections for Southern Resident killer whales

In Progress

Advocating for modernized environmental laws

Victory

Fighting for species protection in Ontario

In Progress

Ensuring Volkswagen pays for its environmental crime

In Progress

We’re protecting the Gulf of St. Lawrence from oil drilling

In Progress

Protecting wild salmon from piscine reovirus

Closed

Standing up for Indigenous rights and the environment

Victory

Challenging TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline

Victory

Fighting for thorough environmental assessments for oil-by-rail projects

Victory

Fighting to advance an honest conversation about climate change

Victory

Protecting Lancaster Sound

In Progress

Seeking justice for contaminated Thane Smelter site

Victory

Ensuring effective oversight of aquaculture vets

Victory

Protecting the Great Lakes

In Progress

Species at Risk Act Implementation

In Progress

Waterproof: Monitoring Canada’s Drinking Water

In Progress

Right to a Healthy Environment

Victory

Reducing Manitobans’ exposure to toxic pesticides

Victory

Protecting Canada’s national parks from commercial encroachment

In Progress

Protecting the Sage-Grouse

Closed

Demanding strong nuclear safety assessments

Closed

Defending the rights of Chemical Valley residents – Charter Challenge

Closed

Defending Ontario’s at-risk species

In Progress

Putting the brakes on the expansion of coal exports from Canadian ports

Victory

Challenging the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion

Victory

Challenging Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline

In Progress

Defending Fish Lake from the Prosperity Mine

Victory

Fighting for Government Oversight of Fish Farms

Closed

Challenging flawed environmental reviews for new nuclear reactors in Ontario

In Progress

Protecting drinking water in Harrietsfield, Nova Scotia

Closed

Protecting Canada’s Arctic from oil spills

In Progress

Bees and Neonicotinoid Pesticides – Notice of Objection

Victory

Fighting discrimination based on environmental sensitivities

Victory

Defending species at risk from the Northern Gateway pipeline

Victory

Fighting for emergency protections for the greater sage-grouse

Closed

Challenging the safety of genetically modified salmon

Victory

Protecting migratory birds from collisions with office buildings

In Progress

Protecting Canadians from harmful pesticides banned in other countries

Victory

Challenging Cadillac Fairview to reduce bird-building collisions

Victory

Protecting habitat for British Columbia’s killer whales

Victory

Nooksack dace lawsuit win protects habitat critical to endangered species

Victory

Nestle bows to pressure to limit Ontario water withdrawals

Victory

Improving access to justice in public interest cases

In Progress

Modernizing B.C.’s Water Act

Victory

Ontario’s Water Opportunities and Conservation Act

Victory

Ensuring that polluters pay after ducks die at tailing ponds

Victory

Exposing the toxic legacy of Canada’s mining and tar sands projects

Victory

Doyle Island salmon farm

Victory

Lilydale chicken processing plant

Victory

Ending narrow environmental assessment of large industrial projects

Victory

Protecting B.C.’s Fraser Valley from Sumas 2 power plant

Victory

Saving Burnaby Lake’s turtles

Victory

Ottawa natural gardens

Victory

Challenging the federal government to protect sage-grouse habitat

Victory

Landmark Supreme Court victory for uOttawa-Ecojustice Clinic

Victory

Victory trashes Lafarge’s tire burning plan

Victory

Piping Plover Lawsuit

Victory

Challenging the Kearl tar sands project in Alberta

Victory

Ontario Parks Act

Victory

Holding Imperial Oil to account, establishing polluter-pays

Victory

Federal Species at Risk Act introduced

Victory

Upholding municipalities’ right to restrict use of pesticides

Victory

Stopping logging in endangered spotted owl habitat

Victory

City of Hamilton responsible for pollution clean-up

Victory

Defending Friends of Lubicon’s right to free speech

Victory

Helping to defeat attack on government regulation

Victory

Protecting Ontario’s old growth forests

Victory

Upholding the Canadian Environmental Protection Act

Victory

Helping James Bay Cree protect Great Whale River

Victory

Defending Galiano Island residents’ right to speak out against logging

Victory

Forcing environmental assessments for all major projects

Victory

Court win halts logging in Wood Buffalo National Park