Montreal, December 13, 2021 – Today the Quebec Court of Appeal dismissed ENvironnement JEUnesse’s appeal to overturn the Superior Court’s decision refusing to authorize its class action against the Government of Canada.
The organization, represented by Trudel Johnston & Lespérance (TJL), had filed an application in November 2018 to represent all youths in Quebec aged 35 and under. ENvironnement JEUnesse is reproaching the Canadian government for its behaviour in the fight against climate change.
In its decision, the Court of Appeal disagreed with the trial judge’s position that the issues brought before the court by ENvironnement JEUnesse are justiciable. Rather, the three judges of the Court of Appeal held that the issues were matters for the legislative and executive branches of government and that any court order in this regard would infringe on the powers devolved to political authorities.
Given the importance of the matter, ENvironnement JEUnesse intends to apply for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada to defend young people’s rights to life, safety, equality and to live in a healthy environment, all of which are fundamental rights protected by the Charters.
« This second refusal by the courts really disappoints me, but we will not give up, » says Catherine Gauthier, designated member of the class action and Executive Director of ENvironnement JEUnesse. « Climate change threatens our lives and safety, and my concern grows as its impacts are becoming more and more tangible and threatening. I know I can count on the youths we represent to continue to fight for our rights. »
« In a recent decision, the Supreme Court has recognized that climate change will have particularly severe and devastating effects in Canada, » said Bruce Johnston. “With ENvironnement JEUnesse’s application for leave to appeal, it will now be called upon to decide what role Canadian courts should play in addressing this unprecedented crisis. »
ENvironnement JEUnesse v. Canada is the only youth-led class action for climate in the world, but the number of lawsuits seeking to force governments to act more strongly and quickly on climate change keeps growing. In the Netherlands, for example, the courts have ordered the State to cap national GHG emissions to protect the health and safety of its citizens.
Several legal actions are underway in Canada, at least two of which are under appeal on the issue of justiciability. ENvironnement JEUnesse’s action is the first to be submitted to the Supreme Court of Canada.
On November 28, 2018, ENvironnement JEUnesse, represented pro bono by Trudel Johnston & Lespérance, filed an application for authorization to institute a class action on behalf of all youths aged 35 and under in Quebec against the Government of Canada. The class action seeks a declaration that the Government of Canada’s behaviour in the fight against climate change breaches the fundamental rights of young people and an award of punitive damages
Created in 1979, ENvironnement JEUnesse (ENJEU) is an environmental education organization that aims to raise awareness of environmental issues among young people in Quebec, to equip them through its educational projects and to encourage them to take action in their community.
Trudel Johnston & Lespérance (TJL) is the law firm that has won the most class actions in Canada since its founding more than 20 years ago. TJL is currently leading some 50 class actions, notably against the tobacco industry and against pharmaceutical companies selling opioids. It has also led several environmental class actions. In 2014, TJL obtained an injunction to protect the St. Lawrence beluga whales against the Energy East project. His team conducts numerous public interest lawsuits in which it acts pro bono, as is the case for ENvironnement JEUnesse.