Court Dismisses Climate Change Lawsuit

By Ben Hamill - October 31 2020

Court Dismisses Climate Change Lawsuit

A Federal Court judge this week dismissed an application pushing for the Canadian Government to be held responsible for its role played in contributing to climate change. The lawsuit was brought before the court by a group of 15 young Canadians claiming to have had their personal charter rights violated as a direct result of government’s actions related to climate change.

Dismissed by Federal Court Justice Michael Manson, the lawsuit – which was initiated by youths between the ages of 10 and 19 – prayed to the court for the compelling of Ottawa for the development of a science-based environment and climate plan of action for recovery. But since according to Manson the claims lodged by the youths have neither cause of action nor prospects of success, it is impossible for the case to go to trial.

Manson also added that the vast network of actions by government that may or may not have contributed to climate change is too broad an issue for the court to try and dissect. He also ruled that the country’s Federal Court has no jurisdiction over the reviewing of Canada’s general handling of climate change.

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They Won’t Give Up Say Youths

But despite the no-doubt disappointing ruling by Mason, many of the youths have responded by saying they aren’t deterred or about to give up.

One of the plaintiffs in the action, 17-year-old Haana Edenshaw of the Haida Nation, says though she’s disappointed, she has no intentions of becoming discouraged or giving up. She says that her intention to continue to labour towards the case being heard is fired by the effects of climate change that she personally has witnessed in her village. Edenshaw hails from Masset, a village located off British Columbia’s North Coast.

A combination of poverty and the physical location of Indigenous communities, says Edenshaw, are two factors leaving Indigenous people at a high risk of being negatively affected by the effects of climate change.

Matter To Be Taken On Appeal

Sophia, another plaintiff in the matter, is of the opinion that Mason’s ruling should be considered a wake-up call for all youth – Canadian youth as well as Indigenous youth. Sophia accuses the country of having attempted to silence the voices of the youths in court by refusing to listen to their calls for change.

Joe Arvay, who acted as the lead lawyer on behalf of the plaintiffs, has added his voice to those of his clients by describing the outcome of the application as disappointing. He said the plan was to continue to forge ahead by lodging an appeal with the country’s Supreme Court.

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