Posted on February 23, 2021 (updated: February 22, 2021)

Ontario youth back climate class action out of Quebec

Seven young people suing the Government of Ontario for weakening climate targets
Photo by Emily Chan

TORONTO/TRADITIONAL TERRITORY OF THE HURON-WENDAT, THE ANISHNAABEG, HAUDENOSAUNEE, CHIPPEWAS AND THE MISSISSAUGAS OF THE CREDIT FIRST NATION – A group of youth climate activists in Ontario are voicing support for their peers one province over, as a youth class action case appears in the Court of Appeal of Quebec.

ENvironnement JEUnesse, an organization dedicated to educating youth on environmental issues, launched a class action climate lawsuit on behalf of Quebeckers aged 35 and under in 2018. In July 2019, the Superior Court of Québec decided not to grant authorization for the class action. ENvironnement JEUnesse is now appealing that ruling.

Meanwhile, a group of young people in Ontario – Alex Neufeldt, Beze Gray, Madison Dyck, Shaelyn Wabegijig, Shelby Gagnon, Sophia Mathur and Zoe Keary-Matzner – are currently leading a lawsuit of their own, challenging the Ontario government’s decision to weaken its climate targets.

Sophia Mathur, 13, is one of the seven youth taking the Ontario government to court. She issued the following statement in support of the ENvironnement JEUnesse case:

“I want adults to know that young people around the world aren’t afraid to stand up for their futures. In places like the United States, Uganda, and Pakistan, and here in Canada, youth are taking their own governments to court to fight for a safe climate.

“Together with my co-applicants in Ontario, I stand with ENvironnement JEUnesse and every other young person around the world who is part of this global wave of climate cases. I wish we could just be regular kids, but we know we need climate action now. Our futures depend on it.”

Background

In Mathur et. al. v. Her Majesty in Right of Ontario, seven young people, backed by Ecojustice, are suing the Government of Ontario for weakening its climate targets because it will lead to catastrophic climate change and widespread illness and death, violating Ontarians’ Charter-protected rights to life, liberty, and security of the person. Lawyers from Ecojustice and Stockwoods LLP are representing the youth applicants.

ENvironnement JEUnesse v. Attorney General of Canada is a class action lawsuit, brought on behalf of Quebeckers 35 and under. The suit asks the Court to order the Government of Canada to cease violating the fundamental rights of young people in Quebec through dangerous climate targets and insufficient measures to meet them, and to pay an amount equivalent to $100 per member of the class action, which would be put towards remedial measures to mitigate climate change.

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.

Nader Hasan and Justin Safayeni, of Stockwoods LLP, are veteran constitutional lawyers with a track record of holding government to account before courts in Ontario and at the Supreme Court of Canada. In 2017, they led the successful legal challenge to seismic testing in the landmark Indigenous rights case, Clyde River v. Petroleum Geo Services Inc., 2017 SCC 40.

For media inquiries

Please contact Emily Chan, communications strategist at Ecojustice
1-800-926-7744 ext. 277, echan@ecojustice.ca

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