La Rose plaintiffs group photo

Canadian Youth File Amended Statement of Claim in Constitutional Climate Lawsuit

Three of the plaintiffs here photographed during the launch of this lawsuit in 2019 (L to R): Haana Edenshaw, Cecilia La Rose, Albert Lalonde. Photo by Robin Loznak; Courtesy of Our Children’s Trust.

VANCOUVER, B.C. (31 May 2024) — Thirteen youth plaintiffs in the federal climate lawsuit, La Rose v. His Majesty the King, today filed their Amended Statement of Claim putting their case back on a path towards trial. The filing follows the December 13, 2023, unanimous decision by the Federal Court of Appeal, where justices ruled that the youth deserve a trial to determine if Canada is fulfilling its constitutional obligations to protect children’s rights to life, liberty and security of the person under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Amended Statement of Claim, brought by young people from seven provinces and one territory, details how Canada’s actions contribute to the escalating climate crisis. Alongside several other similar cases around the world, La Rose v. His Majesty the King argues that the government’s actions to perpetuate the climate crisis (or, as in other cases, inaction to prevent it) can be found by law to be in violation of citizens’ basic human rights.

“These updated claims underscore the danger of Canada’s existing framework to address the urgent demands of the climate emergency.” said Andrea Rodgers, Deputy Director, U.S. Strategy, for Our Children’s Trust. “Canada’s high emissions and repeated failure to meet its own targets make it clear that there is a need for judicial intervention so that the Court can provide guidance as to Canada’s constitutional obligations to protect young people from climate pollution.”

The Amended Statement of Claim also emphasizes that climate change constitutes a special circumstance, warranting the Court’s recognition that the youth in Canada possess the positive right to a safe climate system.

Some of the climate impacts the youth plaintiffs have experienced include: flooding damage to property and agricultural lands, contamination of water supplies, loss of cultural heritage landmarks, waterborne diseases, exposure to unprecedented heatwaves and wildfires, and adverse impacts to the livelihoods and cultural rights to Indigenous communities.

Plaintiff Sadie stated, “I can feel the wildfire smoke coming earlier each and every year, washing my city in murky light, canceling activities, and limiting access to the outdoors. Each time this happens, it makes me more worried for the future I see ahead of me, and reminds me why I am a part of this case. I have been part of La Rose vs. His Majesty the King for 5 years now. It feels like a long time – and it is; with the ever-increasing wildfires and other climate change events becoming worse every year, more and more change must be made, and faster. I have hope in this case, hope it can contribute to protecting the future of the youth of Canada, hope that it can hold our government accountable, hope that it may help limit these wildfires for future generations.”

“Alongside youth across the North, I have witnessed and experienced the forefront of climate change that poses a monumental threat to humanity,” said plaintiff Kira, “I am joining the La Rose case because my generation and those to come are entitled to a planet that can sustain livelihoods, but also an environment that is conducive to harmony, peace, and integrity. Our leaders must be held accountable for the systemic violation of the rights of youth that is occurring today, because there is still time to secure a livable future.”

The youth plaintiffs are represented by Catherine Boies Parker, K.C. and David Wu of Arvay Finlay LLP; Chris Tollefson and Anthony Ho of Tollefson Law Corporation; and by Reidar Mogerman of CFM Lawyers LLP; the brilliant trailblazer Joseph J. Arvay, Q.C. was also an architect and co-counsel for this case before his passing in 2020. The plaintiffs are supported by Our Children’s Trust and the David Suzuki Foundation; as well as the Pacific Centre for Environmental Law and Litigation (CELL), an educational partner using this lawsuit to train the next generation of public interest lawyers.

Read the Amended Statement of Claim here.


Posted: May 31, 2024

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