Sun. Mar 3rd, 2024

Young Ontarians tell Ontario Court of Appeal that Ford government's plan to fight climate change does not ;is not ambitious enough.

Climate: 7 young people accuse Ontario of violating their rights

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The seven young plaintiffs are supported in their case by the Toronto law firm Stockwoods LLP and those of the Ecojustice group.

  • Jean- Philippe Nadeau (View profile)Jean -Philippe Nadeau

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Seven Ontarians claim in the Ontario Court of Appeal that the Ford government's environmental policies are unconstitutional and threaten their rights to health, safety and equality. After an initial failure, the plaintiffs, aged 16 to 28, are trying to convince three judges that the province's green plan is not ambitious enough to preserve the future of future generations.

A trial judge rejected the plaintiffs' constitutional appeal last April, but recognized that the province's green plan fell far short of its objectives.

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She nevertheless asserted that there was no scientific consensus on the measures that would be necessary to combat climate change, thus proving the government right.

The plaintiffs' defense is alleging before the Court of Appeal that Ontario's handling of the climate crisis is so inadequate that it violates their Charter rights.

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She mentions Article 7 on the right to life and security of the person and Article 15 on the right to equality, which gives Canadians protection against discrimination based on equality. x27;age.

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Alex Neufeldt, who owns a small dress rental business in Ottawa, is participating in the constitutional appeal against the Ford government.

The first two imply, according to her, that the physical and psychological health of younger generations cannot be affected by the change climatic.

The right to equality implies that global warming will have a disproportionate impact on younger generations compared to their elders, hence the inequality gap between previous and future generations.

What unites all these young people is that they have come to the conclusion, like so many others in the world, that the government's action in the face of global warming is cruelly failing. target, says their lawyer, Nader Hasan. hassan-ali-non-criminally-responsible-2.jpg” media=”(min-width: 0px) and (max-width: 1023px)”>Open in full screen mode

The lawyer representing the plaintiffs, Nader Hasan, says they come from different regions of the province and from various backgrounds.

Although sympathetic to their cause, the lower court ruled that the province's green plan was not responsible for the fact that younger generations are more affected by climate change than others.

Hasan adds, however, that global warming poses the greatest threat to humanity and that the health or safety of some Ontarians is already suffering.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">There is no doubt that the temperature will continue to rise and that the government has an obligation to limit greenhouse gas emissions more seriously, underlines Me Hasan.

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Lawyer Nader Hasan cites in his examples forest fires in the province, such as in Northern Ontario, during the summer of 2023.

Progressive Conservative policy is to reduce the province's CO2 emissions by 30% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.

Such a target will not prevent the irreversible damage of global warming, if it is not significantly increased, continues the lawyer.

Hasan concludes that governments should not, in any case, be above the law when it comes to confronting any of the challenges the most urgent that humanity has had to face.

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In 2018, the Ford government replaced the carbon market of the previous Liberal government with a new policy to fight against climate change which is not ambitious enough for the plaintiffs' taste.

He therefore asks the Court of Appeal to suspend the current law, since it would be unconstitutional, and to order the government to publish a new green plan based on science with a reduction in environmental targets. x27;at least 45% of the province's emissions.

The province's lawyer, Zachary Green, argues that global warming cannot be subject to arbitration by the courts.

There is no constitutional obligation to take positive steps to correct the harms of climate change, he explains.

Only the government federal government can decide, in its opinion, whether the provincial targets are sufficient to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Canada.

There is no legal standard for calculating a science-based level of emissions to ensure a sustainable future for younger generations or for calculating the province's fair share of global emissions. of polluting emissions, he explains.

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford visits a flooded area in Eastern Ontario in April 2019.

The lawyer recalls that Ontario produces only 22% of national GHG emissions, while the province has 40% of the population of the country.

How should we then set Ontario's fair contribution?, he asks, arguing that Ontario has neither the same economic activity nor the same energy sources as the other provinces.

Me Green recalls that global warming is a complex global problem, which cannot be solved within Ontario's borders.

He emphasizes that the Charter also grants no right to the seven plaintiffs to demand specific targets for reducing greenhouse gases. /p>Open in full screen mode

Eleven organizations have obtained intervener status in this cause, such as the Friends of Earth, Greenpeace Canada and the Assembly of First Nations.

In this sense, we cannot quantify, according to him, the degree of damage that greenhouse gases originating from within the province cause to Ontarians or the amount of damage that would be avoided in Ontario if the province set stricter standards for GHG reduction.

He points out that the adverse effects of climate change are not an issue of violation of the plaintiffs' rights, because the impacts of global warming will be felt by all age groups of Ontario's population.

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The three judges of the Ontario Court of Appeal have reserved the case until an undetermined date.

Me Green further submits that Ontario's green plan does not in fact impose any legal obligations on anyone and that it actually only presents reasonable targets to achieve, in his view.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">Justice Sally Gomery interrupted him on this subject, calling his position cynical. Are you telling us that the province established targets just for the sake of creating reduction objectives?, she asks.

The gas reduction objectives have no legal force, replies Mr. Green.

These targets are beneficial in Ontario's green plan, it remains to be seen whether they meet the expectations of the plaintiffs, he concludes.< /p>

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