The Government of Canada is once again facing a legal challenge for failing to take action on global warming — this time for refusing to respect a federal law that requires reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Late yesterday an Application for Judicial Review was filed with the Federal Court seeking to force the Government to comply with the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act.
Filed by eminent Canadian lawyer Chris Paliare and Ecojustice (formerly Sierra Legal) on behalf of Friends of the Earth Canada, the application alleges that the federal Minister of the Environment is ignoring the rule of law by failing to comply with the Act, passed by Parliament in June 2007.
Under the legislation, the government was legally required to publish, within 60 days, a plan to comply with the country’s commitments under the Kyoto Protocol. The Harper government responded in late August with a plan that the applicants allege plainly fails to meet the requirements of the Act.
“This case is about being accountable to the will of Parliament,” says lawyer Chris Paliare. “By failing to comply with this law, the federal government is neither acting in a manner that is accountable to Parliament nor showing respect for the people of Canada. We are simply asking the court to declare that the government is bound by the Act’s requirements and to require the government to comply with it.”
“Just as parents have clear obligations under the law to protect their children, the Government of Canada has clear obligations under this federal law to protect families from a grave danger,” says Friends of the Earth Canada Chief Executive Officer Beatrice Olivastri. “Canadians will not tolerate a deadbeat dad approach to climate change.”
“Canadians have made it clear they want action on climate change – in fact, our domestic law requires it,” says Ecojustice lawyer Albert Koehl. “Most Canadians don’t care what the current government can’t do – or what the previous government didn’t do; they just want the government to act now to reduce emissions and to live up to our obligations.”
In May 2007, on behalf of Friends of the Earth, Ecojustice launched a lawsuit against the federal government alleging that it had contravened the Canadian Environmental Protection Act by not meeting its international commitments to reduce greenhouse gases. After the unexpected passage of Pablo Rodriguez’s private member’s bill into law this summer, however, Friends of the Earth and the Ministers of Environment and Health agreed to stay the litigation pending the outcome of the new act.