Montreal, July 12, 2019 – Yesterday, Judge Gary D.D. Morrison of the Superior Court of Quebec delivered his judgment in which he refuses to grant ENvironnement JEUnesse the authorization to institute a class action on behalf of all young Quebeckers 35 years old and under against the Government of Canada.
« Instead of protecting our future, the Government of Canada is fighting against youth and violating our fundamental rights, » says Catherine Gauthier, Executive Director of ENvironnement JEUnesse, represented pro bono by Trudel Johnston & Lespérance. « We will continue to fight for actions that live up to the climate crisis. »
According to Judge Morrison, « [i]n having regard to the nature of the class action that [ENvironnement JEUnesse] seeks to exercise and the nature of the alleged infringements of the fundamental rights of the putative members, the choice of the age of 35 by [ENvironnement JEUnesse] as the maximum age of members, leaves the Tribunal perplexed. […] But why choose 35 years? Why not 20, 30 or 40? Why not 60? »
To this question, « it goes without saying that a 60-year-old could not qualify as a young person, » says Bruce Johnston, a lawyer and partner at TJL. « Apart from this surprising element, the important issues have been decided in our favor: the judge recognizes that the impact of climate change on human rights is a justiciable issue and that the actions of the government in this area are subject to the Canadian and Quebec Charters of rights and freedoms. On the other hand, with respect for Judge Morrison, it seems clear that youth is more affected by climate change. »
ENvironnement JEUnesse will appeal the judgment.
A question of intergenerational justice
In his decision, Judge Morrison interpreted of the definition of class members extremely narrowly. In his opinion, they should be at least 18 years old. Internationally, there is an opposite trend evidencing concern that children must have access to justice in the climate field.
According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, « due to their particular metabolism, physiology and development needs, children are disproportionately affected by changes in their environment. Young children […] are more adversely affected by climate change. »
ENvironnement JEUnesse encourages all young people aged 35 and under, and parents on behalf of their children, to show their support.
About ENvironnement JEUnesse
Founded in 1979, ENvironnement JEUnesse (ENJEU) is an organization dedicated to educating youth on environmental issues, to provide training through educational projects and to encourage them to take action in their community.
Trudel Johnston & Lespérance (TJL) is a law firm that has specialized in class actions and public interest litigation for the last twenty years. TJL has won more class action trials than any other law firm in Canada. TJL’s lawyers won the mega-trial against the tobacco industry and obtained an injunction to protect the belugas of the St. Lawrence against Energy East. His lawyers represent communities that are victims of industrial pollution in Malartic and Quebec City and defend Les Courageuses against Gilbert Rozon. TJL pursue a number of public interest cases in which they volunteer, such as this one for ENvironnement JEUnesse.
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