Ecojustice Blog – Healthy communities Posted on December 19, 2012 (updated: February 17, 2015)

Do You Want To Know How to Protect Your Community From Pollution?

Will AmosLawyer

After watching our A Tale Of Two Valleys video, more than 700 hundred Canadians joined our campaign to see their right to a healthy environment legally recognized by all Canadian governments.

Today I’m sharing a video of a TEDx Talk that I gave in November. Watch it and when you’re done you’ll know how the right to a healthy environment can protect your air, water and land from pollution and toxins.

You’ll hear how Argentina’s Beatriz Mendoza used her environmental rights to stop oil refineries from polluting her community’s drinking water.

You’ll learn what environmental rights could mean for Sarnia’s Chemical Valley, where one community is breathing the most polluted air in the country.

Even Lawyers Get Nervous
For someone who has defended nature before Canada’s highest court, I was pretty nervous before giving my talk to Grade 11 and 12 students. Maybe it was because for those students to have bright future, they need a healthy environment. All of that, combined with the bright lights and several hundred people watching, was on my mind in the seconds before I spoke.

But I knew there was no backing out because I believe that environmental rights can strengthen Canada’s environmental laws and improve environmental enforcement and I know about the victories the right to a healthy environment is creating around the world — including Argentina, where the right to a healthy environment has provided thousands of people with clean drinking water.

Victories like that are a part the reason I became an environmental lawyer and why I spend my days helping Canadians like you protect what matters most: the environment that sustains us all, the environment that allows us to lead healthy and enjoyable lives.
What Kind of Canada do You Want to Live in?

I want to live in a Canada where pollution and toxins don’t threaten Ada Lockridge’s right to enjoy her life. Ada and her family live in Sarnia’s Chemical Valley, where an abundance of petrochemical refineries means that Ada and her family fear what they might be breathing. Ada is suing the Ontario government, which gave a multi-billion dollar oil company permission to increase the pollution without assessing the possible harm to the community. (Click Here to find out more about Ada’s fight.) If Ada had the right to a healthy environment, she could make a difference in her community the way citizens of more than 100 countries already can.

Seeking a Few Good Recruits
More than 100 countries recognize their citizens’ right to a healthy environment. But not Canada. For this right to be recognized here, we need to recruit Canadians who believe that the environmental rights victories seen around the world can and will happen here.
My first recruit was my four-year old daughter, Paloma Grace. She heard me practice this presentation so much she can still repeat the first few lines of my talk. Given how easily she committed them to memory maybe I should ask her to deliver any future talks. She didn’t seem as nervous as I did when she recited the first lines:

“Life on this planet wouldn’t exist without three basic elements: air, water and land. None of us would be here without them.”

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