LAWYERS FOR CLIMATE JUSTICE
“Climate Change Threatens Justice in Canada”:
Lawyers for Climate Justice Publish Open Letter to Prime Minister and Attorney General
A group of lawyers from across Canada is warning that an increasingly destabilized climate threatens Canadians’ fundamental rights, leaves prison infrastructure vulnerable, and exacerbates systemic injustices.
The group, Lawyers for Climate Justice (L4CJ), has published an open letter urging the Prime Minister and incoming Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada to protect Canadians from these threats by taking four specific steps.
The letter is co-signed by six well-respected legal organizations including the Canadian Environmental Law Association, West Coast Environmental Law, and East Coast Environmental Law.
It has also already attracted signatures from over 100 prominent lawyers and legal practitioners representing many areas of law, including Andrew Petter, former Attorney General of British Columbia and a Member of the Order of Canada, and legal specialists like David Estrin and Deborah Curran.
“Climate change threatens justice in Canada. Period. We cannot afford to wait and see how quickly our rights are eroded, or how vulnerable our prisons are to power losses or flooding, or how much worse systemic racism gets in the face of climate disruption,” says Aladdin Tingling Diakun, co-chair of L4CJ’s Climate Competence working group.
“We need real leadership from the Minister of Justice and Attorney General to get ahead of these climate threats, now.”
The open letter points to the Heat Dome that killed 570 British Columbians earlier this year as an alarming example of how climate change increasingly threatens Canadians’ rights – including the right to life, liberty, and security of the person enshrined in Section 7 of the Canadian Charter – and asks the recipients to “proactively assess, monitor, and mitigate” these threats to prevent Canadians’ rights from being eroded.
The letter cautions that Canadian prison infrastructure is vulnerable to rising temperatures and dangerous weather extremes and implores the recipients to assess, monitor, and mitigate such vulnerabilities to protect justice workers and prisoners alike.
It also warns that climate change is “exacerbating inequality, racism, and other systemic injustices”, including by threatening the rights of Indigenous Peoples under Section 35 of Canada’s Constitution.
Lastly, the letter calls on the recipients to “review all federal statutes and forthcoming Bills through a climate justice lens and… ensure that vulnerable populations are meaningfully protected.”
Mr. Diakun adds that “Lawyers from every practice area share ethical obligations to improve the administration of justice, champion the rule of law, and safeguard the rights and freedoms of all persons. In the face of accelerating climate threats, meeting our ethical obligations requires a highly proactive approach, including from the incoming Attorney General.”
Contact: Aladdin Diakun