Monday isn’t just Election Day. It’s also the day Ecojustice lawyers will be in court holding the federal government to account for failing to adequately investigate Volkswagen’s fraud against Canadians.
It can be tough to prove a company violated the law. What Ecojustice has discovered is it can be even tougher to get governments to prosecute companies like Volkswagen – even after they have admitted their crimes.
In 2015, “diesel-gate” revealed that Volkswagen had installed illegal emissions-cheating software in its diesel cars. Touted as being environmentally-friendly, these cars actually emitted 35 times the legal level of dangerous nitrogen oxides into the air we breathe.
The United States and Germany moved quickly to prosecute Volkswagen, resulting in the car manufacturer admitting to fraud and paying billions of dollars in fines – much of which will be used to support clean energy projects, such as expanded electric vehicle infrastructure.
It’s a different story in Canada. Four years after diesel-gate broke, and in spite of repeated calls for action, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) has yet to conclude its investigation into Volkswagen’s fraud or hold the company to account for its environmental crimes.
It’s unclear why ECCC has failed to take action. What is clear, is that by doing so, ECCC is breaking its own law. That’s why we’re taking the government to court on Monday.
Under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, citizens have the right to call on the government to investigate environmental crimes and the government has a duty to complete and communicate the outcome of those investigations.
Volkswagen sold more than 120,000 emissions-cheating diesel cars to the unsuspecting Canadian public, exposing countless people to dangerous levels of toxic pollutants. To date, the ECCC has failed to take appropriate action.
This is unacceptable – and unlawful. Volkswagen’s fraud cannot, should not go unpunished.