Youth Climate Lawsuit
La Rose v. Her Majesty The Queen
CELL is proud to be an educational partner in Canada’s national, youth-led climate lawsuit.
Fifteen young Canadians, from seven Canadian provinces and the Northwest Territories and from diverse backgrounds, have filed a lawsuit against the federal government of Canada for contributing to dangerous climate change. Already suffering harms from climate change, the youth argues that the federal government is violating their rights to life, liberty, and security of the person under section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and that the government has failed to protect essential public trust resources. The youth also allege that their government’s conduct violates their right to equality under section 15 of the Charter, since youth are disproportionately affected by the effects of climate change.
These youth plaintiffs are represented by the law firms of Arvay Finlay LLP and Tollefson Law Corporation, and are supported by the CELL, David Suzuki Foundation, and Our Children’s Trust (OCT). This case is part of a global campaign of youth-led, science-based climate litigation supported by OCT.
Experiential Learning for Climate Justice
CELL is an educational partner in this lawsuit to train the next generation of public interest lawyers to become effective defenders of the environment and the rule of law. Using this lawsuit as a vehicle for experiential learning, students enrolled in CELL’s educational program will gain hands-on experience in developing and running complex public interest cases and develop competencies and skills relevant to public interest legal practice.
Law students in CELL’s program have had the opportunity to work closely with the legal team representing the youth in this case. CELL students have contributed hundreds of hours supporting the plaintiffs, which has included working with the lawyers to draft the Statement of Claim and prepare for argument in court. In turn, these students gained first-hand experience in conducting complex, public interest litigation. CELL students will continue to play a crucial role in bringing this case ultimately to trial.
Read what some of our students have to say:
“CELL does two things. First, it exposes students to innovative legal arguments that ground climate litigation cases and helps them tease out the strengths and weaknesses of each claim, at every turn. Second, students have the opportunity to apply these skills to an ongoing case and apply lessons learned to a real case. It’s a lesson in thoughtful and creative litigation. I’ve gained a more nuanced understanding of various legal arguments and the rationale for different strategies. I’ve also learned about litigation’s ability to push the boundaries of the law, which to me, is what public interest litigation is all about. This appreciation for creativity and nuance will definitely stick with me in the future.”
“The strength of the CELL program, in my view, is its ability to expose students like me to nearly every stage of the litigation process. CELL instructors work hard to provide the class with interesting reading lists and engaging seminars, but more importantly have given the students countless opportunities to apply that reading to practical effect in the La Rose case. Working with CELL has also presented me with a unique opportunity to develop my research and written advocacy skills in a collaborative professional environment. The program has made me acutely aware of the effort required to litigate claims such as La Rose and underscored the importance of effective cooperation.”
“I have learned so much from CELL, but I think the most valuable aspect of the program has been the opportunity to strengthen my critical thinking skills and learn to think like a litigator. CELL instructors always situate our discussions within the La Rose litigation and the broader context of environmental law and demonstrate how we should be thinking strategically while developing legal arguments. Being involved in such a novel and complex case has deepened my understanding of the work that goes into developing the legal arguments and strategies that eventually lead to the judgments we focus on in class. Working with CELL has also allowed me to develop a more holistic perspective.”