When the Ford government stepped into office, it unlawfully passed the Cap and Trade Cancellation Act — a move Ecojustice swiftly (and successfully) challenged on the basis that the Ford government ignored public consultation requirements under Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights.
While our case vindicated Ontarians’ right to be consulted on changes to environmental law, it did not reverse the Cap and Trade Cancellation Act, which rolled back the province’s relatively progressive climate targets, and allowed the government to replace them with a significantly weaker 2030 target.
This weaker target will allow more greenhouse gas emissions to be emitted, further contribute to dangerous climate change-related impacts such as heatwaves, floods, fires, and poor air quality that will harm the health of Ontarians, and violate their Charter rights to life, liberty, and security of the person.
Young people are especially at risk when it comes to climate threats because these risks will increase in the coming years if greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced. It’s their lives and lives of everyone who comes after them that will be forced to bear the costs of climate inaction more than previous generations.
That’s why seven young climate leaders, backed by Ecojustice, courageously stepped up to the plate in November 2019, launching a legal fight for a safe and healthy future — starting with a safe climate.
On April 15, 2020, the government filed a motion to strike the case, arguing it should not proceed to a full hearing. The youth applicants countered this motion in July 2020, arguing that they deserved their day in Court.
This led to a historic win. For the first time in Canadian history, a court recognized that climate change has the potential to violate Charter rights and gave the youth the greenlight to move ahead to a full hearing.
The Ontario government then tried to overturn this ruling, but in March 2021 the Ontario Divisional Court dismissed the province’s request to appeal.
This makes Mathur et. al. the first case of its kind to clear key procedural hurdles and is now moving full-steam ahead toward a full hearing.