Jump to Content
The Supreme Court of Canada building has snow on its roof and snow covers the ground nearby.

Photo by Kegan Pepper-Smith

press release

SCC dismissal leaves environment, communities, vulnerable to toxic spills

January 16, 2020

OTTAWA — The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed a reference case brought by the Government of British Columbia today, allowing a decision from the B.C. Court of Appeal to stand and ending the province’s bid to amend its Environmental Management Act.

Ecojustice intervened in the hearing.

Lawyer Kegan Pepper-Smith issued the following statement in response to the court’s decision:

“Today’s decision to block B.C. from amending its Environmental Management Act leaves communities and the environment vulnerable to toxic diluted bitumen spills. Ecojustice is also deeply concerned that the court refused to confirm that governments at all levels have both a right and a constitutional duty to protect the environment.

“While we are disappointed by today’s decision, Ecojustice remains committed to using the power of the law to ensure governments fulfill their legal duty to protect the environment for generations to come.”


Ecojustice goes to court and uses the power of the law to defend nature, combat climate change, and fight for a healthy environment. Its strategic, innovative public interest lawsuits lead to legal precedents that deliver lasting solutions to Canada’s most urgent environmental problems. As Canada’s largest environmental law charity, Ecojustice operates offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, and Halifax.