Ecojustice Case – Nature Case Status: Closed

Defending Ontario’s at-risk species

Wildlands LeagueClient
Ontario NatureClient
Ecojustice lawyer Lara TessaroLara TessaroLawyer
A photo of the Blanding's Turtle, one of 155 at-risk species in Ontario.
Photo: Don Henise / Flickr CC by 2.0

There are currently 161 plant and animal species in Ontario that are endangered or threatened.

The Ontario government’s new regulation, which came into force July 1, 2013, deprives those endangered or threatened species of legal protections. These regulatory exemptions allow major industries — including forestry, mining, energy, and residential development — from having to comply with Ontario’s Endangered Species Act, 2007, which was long considered the “gold standard” in species protection legislation.

In early 2015, lawyers with Ecojustice appeared before the Ontario Divisional Court on behalf of their clients, Ontario Nature and Wildlands League, to argue that the province acted unlawfully when it made the new regulations. Unfortunately, the Court rejected this argument and upheld the regulations.

The clients were granted leave to appeal this case in September 2015. Former Ecojustice lawyers are representing them in the appeal.

Species threatened by the regulation include the American Eel, Blanding’s Turtle, Lakeside Daisy, Eastern Hog-nosed Snake, Acadian Flycatcher and the iconic Woodland Caribou.

Why was Ecojustice involved?

We believe that industrial and resource extraction projects should not trump environmental protection. Sustainable development requires that laws not be improperly amended, through the back door of a government regulation that puts the needs of industry before the protection of endangered species.

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