The case, La Rose et. al. v. Her Majesty the Queen, seeks to hold Canada accountable for contributing to dangerous climate change and discriminating against youth

VANCOUVER — Today, 15 young Canadians from throughout the country filed a lawsuit against the Government of Canada for contributing to dangerous climate change.

The case argues the youth are already being harmed by climate change and the federal government is violating their rights to life, liberty and security of the person under section 7 of the charter and for failing to protect essential public trust resources. The youth also allege that their government’s conduct violates their right to equality under section 15 of the charter, since youth are disproportionately affected by the effects of climate change.

The youth, from seven Canadian provinces and the Northwest Territories, are represented by the law firms of Arvay Finlay LLP and Tollefson Law Corporation, and are supported by the Pacific Centre for Environmental Law and Litigation, David Suzuki Foundation and Our Children’s Trust.

The lawsuit calls on Canada to cease violating the youth’s charter and public trust rights and prepare and implement a plan that reduces Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions in a manner consistent with what best available science indicates is needed for the federal government to protect young Canadians, do its fair share to stabilize the climate system and avert the catastrophic consequences of climate change.

Joseph Arvay, Q.C., co-counsel for the plaintiffs and partner at Arvay Finlay LLP, said:

“The Courts in this country have demonstrated a willingness to take on some of the most important societal issues of our day when governments have engaged in conduct that put at risk the constitutional rights and freedoms of minorities and  marginalized and vulnerable people. We are hopeful they will likewise recognize that it is their role in our constitutional democracy to require the Government of Canada to cease its dangerous conduct and require it to take significant steps to eliminate the existential threat that climate change poses to our children and youth.”

Sierra, 17-year-old plaintiff from Vancouver Island, British Columbia, said:

“One of the reasons I want to be a part of this case is because I recognize that to make the changes we need to in time, we need to take action on every level. This case is my opportunity to take my activism from the streets into the courtroom so that we as youth can demand that our government stop violating our rights.”

Lucas, 15-year-old plaintiff from Ottawa, Ontario, said:

“As youth, we have dreams for the future. Without a stable climate, our generation will not fulfil these dreams. My government should not be standing in the way of our dreams.”

Sadie, 13-year-old plaintiff from Calgary, Alberta, said:

“I fight the climate crisis because I want my future to be a good one. I want a home for humanity and for all of the animals that are and will be on the brink of extinction.”

Stephen Cornish, David Suzuki Foundation CEO, said:

“This case moves the youth climate movement from the streets to Canadian courts for the first time, with the aim of forever changing how we govern, how we run our economy, and how we protect and preserve a safe and liveable climate for future generations. While this lawsuit is the latest in a series of legal actions filed by youth against their governments worldwide, it is the first federal youth climate litigation in Canadian history, marking a major milestone in Canada’s youth climate movement. The David Suzuki Foundation is grateful to support such an important case, its legal framework, its plaintiffs and how its story is told.”

Andrea Rodgers, Our Children’s Trust staff attorney, said:

“Canada is one of the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gas emissions, and it’s time to hold the country accountable for contributing to dangerous climate change. These brave youth join others, like the 21 plaintiffs in the Juliana v. United States case, who recognize that when governments take actions that harm and discriminate against them, they can vindicate their fundamental rights in a court of law.”

Allie Ho, 17-year-old organizer with Vancouver’s Sustainabiliteens, said:

“Over the past year, the youth climate justice movement has grown exponentially. Hundreds of thousands of us have taken to the streets, making our voices impossible to ignore. By bringing our demands to the federal courts, this lawsuit creates another path to ensure that the government prioritizes climate justice.”

– 30 –

To set up interviews with youth plaintiffs, David Suzuki Foundation, or Our Children’s Trust, please contact:

Brendan Glauser, 604-356-8829, bglauser@davidsuzuki.org

Meg Ward, 503-341-8590, meg@ourchildrenstrust.org

Legal contacts:

Joseph Arvay, co-counsel for plaintiffs, Arvay Finlay, 604-283-9018, jarvay@arvayfinlay.ca

Chris Tollefson, co-counsel for plaintiffs, Tollefson Law Corp, 604-888-6074, chris@tollefsonlaw.ca

Read the Statement of Claim.

Counsel for Plaintiffs are Joseph J. Arvay, Q.C. and Catherine Boies Parker, Q.C. of Vancouver, BC, and Chris Tollefson and Anthony Ho of Victoria, BC.

The David Suzuki Foundation (davidsuzuki.org) is a leading Canadian environmental non-profit organization, collaborating with all people in Canada, including government and business, to conserve the environment and find solutions that will create a sustainable Canada through evidence-based research, public engagement and policy work. The Foundation operates in English and French, with offices in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. 

Our Children’s Trust (ourchildrenstrust.org) is a nonprofit organization, elevating the voice of youth, those with most to lose, to secure the legal right to a healthy atmosphere and stable climate on behalf of present and future generations. We lead a coordinated global human rights and environmental justice campaign to implement enforceable science-based Climate Recovery Plans that will return atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration to below 350 ppm by the year 2100. 

CELL (pacificcell.ca) is a nonprofit society incorporated under the laws of British Columbia, and a federally registered charity. Its mission is to train and inspire Canada’s next generation of public interest environmental litigators by providing junior lawyers and law students the opportunity to gain hands-on litigation experience working as part of a team on carefully selected and closely supervised public interest environmental cases.