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

Maple Ridge City Hall. (The News files)
Maple Ridge takes development services virtual

Building, planning and engineering services will be offered online only until end of the month

Thousands have converged in Whonnock Lake Park to enjoy the nice weather. (Roxanne Hooper/The News)
Thousands enjoy Maple Ridge park as city warns about social distancing

Portable toilets installed in anticipation of nice weather

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Two new Maple Ridge schools have COVID-19 exposures

Alouette elementary and Maple Ridge secondary visited by virus

Ridge Meadows RCMP Const. Britteny George and Westview students turned old tires into pet beds. (Special to The News)
Maple Ridge students help turn old tires into pet beds

Westview art classes and RCMP constable take on project

Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Conservative MP Marc Dalton and former MP and Liberal candidate Dan Ruimy.
Dalton slams budget, Ruimy defends Liberal spending

Neither politician sees federal budget triggering an election

A lone traveler enters the Calgary Airport in Calgary, Alta., Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
VIDEO: Trudeau defends Canada’s travel restrictions as effective but open to doing more

Trudeau said quarantine hotels for international air travellers will continue until at least May 21

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson leaves the assembly with Premier John Horgan after the budget speech Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Paid sick leave for ‘hard-hit’ workers left out of provincial budget: BCGEU

‘For recovery to be equitable it requires supports for workers, not just business,’ says union president Laird Cronk

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

In this image from video, former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, center, is taken into custody as his attorney, Eric Nelson, left, looks on, after the verdicts were read at Chauvin’s trial for the 2020 death of George Floyd, Tuesday, April 20, 2021, at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Court TV via AP, Pool
George Floyd’s death was ‘wake-up call’ about systemic racism: Trudeau

Derek Chauvin was found guilty Tuesday on all three charges against him

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Former University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is photographed in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, November 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Rowing Canada sanctions former head coach of B.C. varsity women’s team

Suspension of Barney Williams would be reversed if he complies with certain terms

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Most Read