Government expresses intent to file “motion to strike” the plaintiffs’ claim; Court sets date for hearing on the motion
VANCOUVER — On May 11, 2020, the Canadian government changed its tactics in the La Rose et. al. v. Her Majesty the Queen youth climate lawsuit, informing the Federal Court it planned to file a motion to strike the plaintiffs’ claim in order to stop the lawsuit from proceeding to trial.
The case will see two immediate next steps, with a two-day public hearing in Vancouver on September 30 and October 1, 2020:
- The Attorney General of Canada will serve and file a motion to strike the plaintiffs’ claim on or before July 10, 2020.
- The Plaintiffs will serve and file a responding record on or before August 31, 2020.
Although the hearing in September/October would typically take place in person, it may be carried out virtually because of the pandemic.
Sophia, 18-year-old plaintiff from Gatineau, Quebec, responded:
“Canada has acknowledged the disproportionate impacts of climate change on youth, especially on Indigenous youth like me. I’m profoundly disappointed that Canada acknowledges this and now tries to evade their legal responsibilities to protect us. Canada has a long history of refusing to redress wrongs to First Nations, especially children, and they demonstrated that again last year when they refused to pay the settlement to First Nations children in the child welfare system. Canada talks but they don’t act. That’s why we need the courts to order the Canadian government to protect the constitutional rights of children and youth in Canada, especially Indigenous children and youth. The time for talking is over. We are in a crisis and we need to act immediately.”
Lauren, 15-year-old plaintiff from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, stated:
“I remain hopeful that our courts will protect my constitutional rights. I am counting on my government to protect my rights as a young Canadian, and I am extremely disappointed that the federal government wishes to dismiss our claim and deny us our day in court. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that rapid change to address an emergency is entirely possible. Our government needs to apply this same urgency to the climate crisis, which is causing health problems for millions of Canadians like me.”
Albert, 18-year-old plaintiff from Montreal, Quebec, wrote:
“It is already a shame we have to seek protection from the courts so that they order our government to secure us a future. I am now even more disappointed that our government doesn’t at least have the courage to go to trial. I am confident that the Constitution will be upheld.”
In its February 2020 Statement of Defence, the federal government acknowledged that climate change is real, that it has significant negative impact on Canadians and that addressing climate change is “of central importance to the Canadian government.”
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About the La Rose et. al. v. Her Majesty the Queen (“La Rose”) youth climate lawsuit:
The La Rose et. al. case was filed by 15 young people from a number of provinces and territories on October 25, 2019. In the lawsuit, the youth claim the federal government of Canada is contributing to dangerous climate change. The case argues that 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 plaintiffs also allege that Canada’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 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 the 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.
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 (CELL), David Suzuki Foundation and Our Children’s Trust.
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Brendan Glauser: 604-356-8829, email@example.com (Canadian media)
Erin Barnhart: 541-203-0245, firstname.lastname@example.org (U.S. / International media)
Counsel for Plaintiffs are Joseph J. Arvay, Q.C. and Catherine Boies Parker, Q.C. of Vancouver, B.C., and Chris Tollefson and Anthony Ho of Victoria, B.C.
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 non-profit public interest law firm that provides strategic, campaign-based legal services to youth from diverse backgrounds to secure their legal rights to a safe climate. We work to protect the Earth’s climate system for present and future generations by representing young people in global legal efforts to secure their binding and enforceable legal rights to a healthy atmosphere and stable climate, based on the best available science. We support our youth clients and amplify their voices before the third branch of government in a highly strategic legal campaign that includes targeted media, education, and public engagement work to support the youths’ legal actions. Our legal work – guided by constitutional, public trust, human rights laws and the laws of nature – aims to ensure systemic and science-based climate recovery planning and remedies at federal, state, and global levels.
CELL (pacificcell.ca) is a non-profit 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.