Posted on August 22, 2022 (updated: August 22, 2022)

Seven young Ontarians will make history this September in climate Charter case

Collage of youth applicants in Mathur et. al. case and Ecojustice lawyers on a blackboard illustration

Applicants will join youth from across Ontario in rally to support case

Toronto, Ont./ Traditional territories of several First Nations including the Williams Treaties First Nations, Huron-Wendat, the Anishnaabeg, Haudenosaunee, Chippewas, and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation –

Seven young Ontarians will face down their provincial government in court this September in a crucial moment in the fight against the climate emergency in Canada. Mathur et. al. will be heard before Ontario’s Superior Court on September 12-14.

Backed by Ecojustice, Sophia, Zoe, Shaelyn, Alex, Shelby, Madi, and Beze are leading a legal challenge of the Ontario government’s decision to significantly weaken the province’s 2030 climate target, essentially moving backwards on climate action at a time when science says that all governments must do more.

This case is historic because it is the first climate lawsuit based on rights protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to be heard on its merits in a Canadian court.

A victory for these young people could set a precedent under the highest law of the land that no government in Canada can take action that contributes to the climate crisis without potentially violating Charter rights. A victory in this case would mean exponential progress in the fight for a safe climate future.

These young applicants will be joined by other youth from across Ontario in a rally in support of their case Sunday, September 11 at 2pm at Queen’s Park in Toronto. The seven youth will outline why they are taking the Ontario government to court in a fight for their generation.

Like in many places around the world, in Ontario and Canada, it’s young people who are leading the fight against the climate emergency. Young people have taken the demand for climate action from rallies on the street into the courtroom.

At the rally and in court, these seven young people will demand that their government takes the climate crisis seriously.

Danielle Gallant, Ecojustice lawyer, said:

“The Ontario government’s dangerous approach to climate change has put our collective future and that of future generations at risk.

“Climate-related legal challenges have become a powerful tool for young people to demand change and hold governments accountable for failing to take the climate crisis seriously and actively contributing to its harms.

“Now, for the first time in Canadian legal history, a government’s climate change record will be put on trial.”

Alex Neufeldt, Ottawa, Ont. said:

“It is not lost on my generation that we are running out of time to avert a climate catastrophe.

“That is why this September I will be taking part in a historic lawsuit to challenge the Ontario government for its failures in addressing the climate crisis.

“I hope that young people across Ontario, and across Canada, will support our efforts to hold the provincial government accountable.”

Background:

  • Mathur et. al. was launched in November 2019 to challenge the Ontario government scrapping its relatively progressive climate targets and replacing them with a significantly weaker 2030 target.
  • 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 on November 12, 2020. 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 green light 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 preliminary hurdles and move to a full hearing.

About:

Ecojustice uses the power of the law to defend nature, combat climate change, and fight for a healthy environment. Its strategic, public interest lawsuits and advocacy lead to precedent-setting court decisions and law and policy 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.

 

For media inquiries

Sean O’Shea, communications strategist | Ecojustice

416-368-7533 ext. 523, soshea@ecojustice.ca

Join our newsletter

Get updates on the most pressing environmental issues delivered straight to your inbox.