In an effort to protect endangered Southern Resident killer whales, Ecojustice launched a lawsuit against the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister of Fisheries and Oceans in September 2018.
On behalf of David Suzuki Foundation, Georgia Strait Alliance, Natural Resources Defense Council, Raincoast Conservation Foundation and World Wildlife Fund Canada, Ecojustice filed a case asking the Federal Court to force the ministers to recommend that cabinet issue an emergency order to protect the whales under the Species at Risk Act.
The filing came at a time when the Southern Residents’ crisis was on full display — in the immediate aftermath of J35’s famous “tour of grief,” during which the whale carried her dead calf for 17 days, and a mere week and a half before authorities declared J50, a four-year-old Southern Resident, presumed dead.
The case launch also followed more than seven months’ worth of concerted efforts to convince pressure the ministers into recommending the emergency protections, including a petition from Ecojustice and its clients, more than ten thousand letters from Ecojustice supporters to the Ministers, and local and national media coverage.
On Nov. 2, 2018, faced with pressure from both the lawsuit and the public, the federal government quietly released a decision not to issue an emergency order for the Southern Residents.
According to the announcement, the ministers had indeed recommended cabinet make the order — the outcome Ecojustice sought through litigation — but cabinet refused to issue the emergency protections.
With the recommendation already-made, Ecojustice discontinued the case.