Ecojustice Blog – Healthy communities Posted on March 22, 2013 (updated: March 22, 2013)

How a Sarnia duo defended their right to fight for clean air

Our case to protect a community from unsafe amounts of industrial pollution is back on track despite a year of legal wrangling from the government and a multibillion dollar oil company.

Our clients Ada Lockridge and Ron Plain were in court in January, using our expertise to thwart legal motions that sought to dismiss their case and much of the evidence we had gathered and filed with the Court. Ada and Ron, members of Aamjiwnaang First Nation, are suing Ontario and Suncor over the government’s continued approval of pollution in Sarnia’s Chemical Valley. Ron and Ada are saying that the government’s ongoing approval of pollution is a violation of their basic human rights, which they say are protected under Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Environmental Rights Connection
Our work on this case, the Chemical Valley Charter Challenge, fits into our Right To A Healthy Environment campaign. The campaign is about legally protecting the basic elements of life: clean air, safe water and unpolluted land. It launched with a video, A Tale of Two Valleys, in early November (Click HERE to learn more about the campaign).

Ron and Ada believe that Ontario must consider the cumulative impacts of pollution in Chemical Valley before approving more toxic emissions. Chemical Valley is an industrial area where refining releases toxic chemicals into the air in order to turn crude oil into gas, plastics, rubber, solvents and more. About 800 people live in Aamjiwnaang, where they’ve been breathing air from those industrial facilities for decades. In 2011, the World Health Organization said that the people of Sarnia inhale some of the most polluted air in all of Canada.

The legal update
Justice Harvison Young rejected the motion to strike the entire case, but decided that we had to remove some of the evidence filed with the court in April 2011. Last Friday, we completed that task and re-filed our evidence with the court.

Despite over a year of delays brought about by these motions, Ron and Ada’s case has survived its first legal test and the duo remains committed to their cause. We expect the Ontario government and Suncor to file their responding evidence in just over five months and hope to be in Court again for the hearing of this case in early 2014.

Together, we can make our air better
The health and well being of every Canadian depends on the health of the environment. Air pollution is a threat to every Canadian, not just Ron and Ada. Preventing air pollutants from entering our bodies would improve the health of Canadians.

We fully intend to bring more cases, work with more groups and build the momentum necessary to achieve our goal of improving air and water quality for people like Ron and Ada and all Canadians.

Build the case for a better earth

Thanks to the support of people like you, Ecojustice goes to court to protect what we value most — the air, land and water that sustains all life. Make your gift today and support bold litigation for a brighter environmental future.

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