Initial victory in youth-led climate case

The Applicants in the case, 7 young people, are arguing that the Ford government’s climate policy, which weakened Ontario’s climate targets in 2018, violates their Charter-protected rights to life, liberty, and security of the person.

Ottawa (30 Nov. 2020) — The young activists taking the Ford government to court over its climate policy have won an initial victory in their case. With the Ontario court ruling against the government’s attempt to have the case dismissed, this landmark case will proceed to trial.

Young activists fighting for Charter rights

The Applicants in the case, 7 young people, are arguing that the Ford government’s climate policy, which weakened Ontario’s climate targets in 2018, violates their Charter-protected rights to life, liberty, and security of the person.

The Ford government has cut a number of green initiatives in its short tenure, as reported by the National Observer. This includes canceling the cap and trade program, eliminating the electric and hydrogen vehicle incentive program, canceling over 700 green energy projects, proposed cuts to at-risk species protections, and significant cuts to flood management funds.

Ford government tried to stop the case in its tracks

In April, the Ford government had filed a motion to dismiss the case.

The government had tried to argue that the courts aren’t the appropriate place to address climate change, that the climate crisis is too big for Ontario’s actions to matter, and that the young people bringing the case can’t speak for the interest of future generations (Ecojustice). 

Court makes a historic ruling 

Last week, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled that the case would proceed to trial, as reported by the Sudbury Star. The court ruled that the case is of public interest as it applies to all Ontario residents.

Environmental law charity, Ecojustice, is representing the young activists. According to Ecojustice, this ruling is the first time in history a Canadian court has acknowledged “that fundamental rights protected under the Charter can be threatened by climate change and citizens have the ability to challenge a Canadian government’s action on the climate crisis under the highest law in the land.”

One of the applicants, a 13-year old activist involved in the Fridays for Future movement, has said: “I’m hoping to inspire adults so they can do something for the environment, and I’m hoping to inspire politicians to start listening to our experts.”


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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE