Media Release: Canada’s highest court to release decision on how broadly environmental laws may be interpreted to protect the public

Media Release

Joint media release from CELA and Lake Ontario Waterkeeper

Ottawa, ON – On Thursday, October 17, 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada will release its decision on how broadly environmental laws may be interpreted to protect the public.

The case raising this issue involves a company acquitted in 2010, but convicted on appeal in 2011, for failing to report to the Ontario environment ministry under the province’s Environmental Protection Act (“EPA”). A blasting operation the company conducted for a highway-widening project in eastern Ontario damaged a nearby home and vehicle with fly-rock from the blast-site, but did not harm the natural environment. The company’s conviction for failing to report the incident to the environment ministry was upheld by a 2-1 majority in the Ontario Court of Appeal in early 2012. The company was granted leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada and argued before the Court in May 2013 that the EPA does not apply if the natural environment (air, land, water) is not also harmed by its conduct.

Lake Ontario Waterkeeper (“LOW”) and the Canadian Environmental Law Association (“CELA”) were concerned that such an interpretation could restrict the application of the EPA and similar provincial and territorial environmental laws across the country and leave under-regulated key environmental issues such as noise, the ozone layer, climate change, as well as human health and safety. CELA and LOW were granted leave to intervene by a single judge of the Supreme Court of Canada in March 2013 and participated in the oral argument before the full Court in May of this year.

The decision – Castonguay Blasting Ltd. v. Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Ontario as represented by the Minister of the Environment – Court File No. 34816 – will be released by the Court on Thursday morning, October 17, 2013, at 9:45 a.m.

The decision may be obtained from the Supreme Court’s website at that time.

View the LOW-CELA factum to the Supreme Court

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For more information contact:
Joseph F. Castrilli or Ramani Nadarajah, CELA Counsel at: (416) 960-2284; 1-647-234-4424
Mark Mattson, LOW President and Waterkeeper at 416-861-1237.