Ecojustice Blog – Special Update Posted on January 1, 2018 (updated: January 22, 2018)

Our six core values and the year ahead

Devon PageLawyer
Snowy alpine view

Listen to “The Case For a Better Earth Episode 6: Environmental Law as Counterculture” on Spreaker.

A look at what’s in store for 2018 and how it aligns with our core values

As 2017 came to a close, the Ecojustice community stepped forward to share its wishes for the environment. If we imagine your wishes taking root, they would look like this:

In the shape of an evergreen tree, word of supporter wishes emphasizes right to clean air and water

Read on for a closer look at some of the themes we heard from you, and a peek at what we have in store for 2018 and how that work aligns with the core values that guide all of Ecojustice’s decisions and actions: Collaboration, courage, dedication, excellence, impact, and integrity.

For nature

“… I am still wishing for greater protection of the woodland caribou. Their habitat is continuously threatened by oil sands development. We need to see them protected for future.”
— Louise T., Manitoba

Protecting wildlife has been a priority for Ecojustice since we opened our doors in 1990 and this year will be no exception. But we do not go it alone. At Ecojustice, we believe that we are strongest when we work together. Our efforts to defend nature are an example of one of our six core values in action: Collaboration.

Whether it is strategizing about how to protect British Columbia’s iconic orca populations or filing lawsuits to force governments to fulfill their legal responsibilities to recover endangered species, achieving victories for the environment takes many hands. And you are a vital part of the solution.

Thanks to the support of people like you, Ecojustice represents every one of our clients — nonprofits, community groups, and individuals who would otherwise be unable to cover the costs of strategic public interest litigation — free of charge.

This year, we’ll continue to partner with the Alberta Wilderness Association, Cold Lake First Nation, and David Suzuki Foundation to pressure Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna to take steps to protect threatened boreal caribou herds in northeastern Alberta. Stay tuned — soon we’ll be inviting you to lend your voice to boreal caribou too!

We’re also representing Animal Justice in a lawsuit aimed at forcing Ontario’s Minister of Natural Resources to produce long-overdue recovery strategies for 37 at-risk species. And thanks to your support, we can continue working alongside independent biologist Alexandra Morton to protect wild salmon from a highly-contagious virus found in 80 per cent of farm salmon in B.C.

For a safe climate

“My holiday wish is for the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion project to be stopped — permanently. I would like the federal government to stop saying Canada can meet its GHG emissions target while building new fossil fuel projects. The two cannot coexist.”
— Scott M., Ontario

Between the demise of TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline, the end of the Enbridge Northern Gateway saga, and fierce opposition to Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, 2017 seemed to signal that the battles over big oil-pipeline projects are nearing an inevitable end. As my colleague Charles Hatt wrote after TransCanada pulled the plug on Energy East:

There will be no second tar sands expansion boom; no major new pipeline proposals. Energy markets don’t want it and the climate can’t take it. The decline phase of oil and the world’s ever-shrinking carbon budget are firmly on the horizon.

So, what’s next? Despite the pipeline victories, mass public mobilizations, and lofty government promises, the reality of climate change is hitting harder and more frequently than ever. The enormity of this global challenge will require us to draw upon another core value: Courage. Even when it is hard and the outcome uncertain, we will endeavor to do what’s right.

In 2018, this means recalibrating our climate strategy and exploring new legal avenues to combat climate change. This is no small feat given there are no federal laws that directly address what amounts to the greatest threat to human survival on this planet, but thanks to the support of people like you, we’re up to the challenge. Stay tuned.

For healthy communities and ecosystems

“I want the bees protected with the end of pesticides that are endangering them.”
— Manuela D., British Columbia

Thanks to your support, we will be working hard to make this wish a reality in 2018.

Multiple studies have confirmed that widespread neonicotinoid pesticide use is exposing pollinators to dangerous levels of toxic contamination, killing bees and leading to colony collapses. This is worrisome news: Pollinators are essential to healthy communities and ecosystems because they pollinate up to 30 per cent of world’s crops and 90 per cent of wild plants.

For years, the federal government has allowed broad use of neonicotinoids without properly determining the risks they pose to the environment. In 2016, we launched a case to stop this unlawful practice.

This case has also become a living testament to the endurance strategic public interest litigation demands and why we identified dedication as one of our core values. We do not give up.

Just ask our opponents. The federal government and multinational pesticide companies have tried to dismiss our case before it can be heard on its merits — twice. But each time, we stood our ground to ensure that our clients — David Suzuki Foundation, Friends of the Earth, Ontario Nature and Wilderness Committee — and pollinators will get their day in court later this year.

For our right to a healthy environment

“[My wish is] for our federal government to legally recognize our right to live in a healthy environment!”
— Tom S., Ontario

We heard a resounding message from supporters like you that you want the federal government to recognize, respect and fulfill our right to a healthy environment — clean air, safe drinking water, and freedom from toxic pollution. We could not agree more.

Impact is another of our core values. When we advocate for stronger laws or go to court to defend the environment, we always aim to change the game. That’s where our right to a healthy environment campaign comes in: Enshrining the right to a healthy environment in Canadian federal law would be a major game-changer and have far-reaching benefits for the health and well-being of Canadians.

This past summer we celebrated a breakthrough moment for Canada’s growing environmental rights movement when the federal committee charged with reviewing the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) recommended that the law be amended to recognize our right to a healthy environment. In total, the committee made more than 80 progressive recommendations that reflect the extensive oral and written submissions Ecojustice’s experts made during the review process.

These recommendations now sit before government. New legislation is expected to be tabled in 2018, but there is no guarantee it will meaningfully implement the committee’s recommendations.

That’s why we will be hustling hard on Parliament Hill alongside our partners and allies to make sure the forthcoming bill delivers the reforms we so desperately need. With you on our side, we will not let this once-in-a-generation opportunity to fix CEPA slip by.

Invest with trust

We do not take the trust, time, and dollars you invest with Ecojustice for granted. That’s why we operate with integrity, and hold ourselves to account to high professional and ethical standards.

Ecojustice is an accredited Imagine Canada charity. This means our organizational practices meet or exceed more than 70 standards for board governance, financial accountability and transparency, fundraising, staff management, and volunteer involvement. When you support Ecojustice, you can do so with confidence.

Thank you for joining our mission to use the law to defend nature, combat climate change, and fight for a healthy environment for all. For more than 25 years, our shared commitment to excellence has delivered outstanding results for the environment. And in 2018, we will accomplish even more together.

For regular updates on what we are working on this year, subscribe to Ecojustice’s podcast, The Case for a Better Earth, on iTunes.

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