Media Release: CELA’S Clients Intervening in Supreme Court of Canada Municipal Pesticides By-Law Case

Media Release

Toronto. Late Friday afternoon, Toronto Environmental Alliance, Sierra Club of Canada, Canadian Environmental Law Association, Parents’ Environmental Network, Healthy Lawns-Healthy People, Pesticide Action Group Kitchener, Working Group on the Health Dangers of the Urban Use of Pesticides, Environmental Action Barrie, Breast Cancer Prevention Coalition, Vaughan Environmental Action Committee and Dr. Merryl Hammond, represented by Canadian Environmental Law Association, were granted leave to intervene in an appeal to be heard by the Supreme Court of Canada.

In an Order issued February 25, 2000 by Mr. Justice Major of the Supreme Court, the Court allowed the group’s intervention application. A similar application by a group of clients represented by the Sierra Legal Defence Fund was also allowed. Mr. Justice Major turned down an application to intervene by the Crop Protection Institute of Canada.

The case involves a by-law passed by the municipality of Hudson, Quebec, to control local use and application of pesticides by homeowners and businesses in the municipality. Two corporations, Chemlawn and Spraytech, applied to court to have the by-law quashed. Their request was denied by the Quebec trial court and denied again by the Quebec Court of Appeal. They were granted leave to appeal the decisions to the Supreme Court of Canada last fall. Friday’s intervention decisions means that the Court will be able to consider the submissions of CELA on behalf of its clients before making a decision as to the validity of the by-law.

CELA’s client group took what for most of them was the extraordinary step of seeking to intervene because of the potential significance of the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision to the ability of municipality’s across Canada to enact local pesticides control by-laws.Cosmetic use of pesticides – that is use for lawns and flower gardens – is much greater on a per-acre measure than even agricultural use of pesticides, and yet this is the use that places our children, our pets, our neighbours and ourselves at the greatest risk.

Many of the groups have been working in their local communities for reduced urban pesticide use. The Supreme Court’s decision will be relevant, not just to Quebec, but to most provinces in Canada. “Quebec’s municipal legislation has a power that is quite similar to Ontario and other provinces, to pass by-laws for the general welfare of their community members. To interpret that legislation so as to restrict municipalities from exercising these powers in the way they think is in the best interests of their residents would have serious repercussions,” said Theresa McClenaghan, CELA counsel.

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For more information:

Theresa McClenaghan, Counsel, CELA
Paul Muldoon, Executive Director, CELA, 416-960-2284