Media Release: Environmental groups intervene before Supreme Court in criminal case

Media Release

Canada’s highest court to hear case on how broadly environmental laws may be interpreted to protect the public

Ottawa, ON – On Friday, May 17, 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada will consider 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. In late September 2012, the Supreme Court of Canada agreed to hear the company’s appeal that will argue 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”) are 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-protected certain other aspects of the environment as well as human health and safety. CELA and LOW sought and were granted leave to intervene by a single judge of the Supreme Court of Canada in March 2013.

The case – 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 argued before the full Court on Friday morning commencing at 9:30 a.m.

The LOW-CELA factum to the Supreme Court may be viewed here.

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For more information contact:
Joseph F. Castrilli or Ramani Nadarajah, CELA Counsel at: (416) 960-2284; 1-647-234-4424; (613) 236-4479
Mark Mattson, LOW President and Waterkeeper at 416-861-1237.