February 23rd, 2021 – Montréal, QC – A youth-led environmental group is appearing before the Quebec Court of Appeal today seeking to proceed with their class action lawsuit against the Canadian government for failing to act on the climate crisis. Amnesty International is intervening in the appeal. It will argue that the Court must consider Canada’s international human rights law obligation to provide effective remedies for human rights violations, such as those caused by the failure to take appropriate actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Founded in 1979, Environnement Jeunesse (EnJeu) is a Montreal-based non-profit focusing on raising awareness and encouraging advocacy among Quebec youth on environmental issues. In November 2018, EnJeu filed an application for authorization to bring a class action lawsuit against the Canadian government on behalf of all Quebecers under the age of 35. It argued that the Canadian government is violating the rights guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms by failing to meet greenhouse gas emission targets that are sufficient to effectively combat the climate crisis.
In July 2019, a Quebec Superior Court judge rejected EnJeu’s request to authorize its class action, ruling that it did not meet the requirements to proceed as a class action. In addition to questioning the “theoretical nature” of the violations, the Court also addressed the “arbitrary and inappropriate” cut off age of 35 and whether or not EnJeu had the authority to act on behalf of minors under the age of 18.
EnJeu has appealed the decision which will be heard by the Quebec Court of Appeal today. Amnesty International (AI) was granted intervener status in the appeal. It will urge the Court of Appeal to consider Canada’s international human rights law obligations towards children and youth when determining whether the class action ought to be permitted to proceed.
According to Fiona Koza, of Amnesty International’s Canadian section, “the climate crisis is one of the most pressing human rights issues of our time”. Koza adds “that is why we are intervening in this appeal – to support a human rights-based approach to climate litigation and to ensure that the Government of Canada ceases to violate the fundamental rights of Canadian children and youth, by failing to put in place the necessary measures to address the climate crisis”.
AI is represented by Giacomo Zucchi and Audrey Mayrand from Power Law and Anne Levesque from the University of Ottawa. The legal team is acting on a pro bono basis. Members of the media who wish to listen to the oral arguments are invited to contact the Québec Court of Appeal in Montreal to obtain the audio link.
For more information:
Lucy Scholey, Media Relations Officer, Amnesty International Canada (English branch)
Camille Ducroquet, Responsable des communications, Amnistie internationale Canada francophone
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