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The recent attempt of the Ford government to dismiss a court case against them brought by Greenpeace Canada, represented by Ecojustice[1], failed on January 26, 2019. Ecojustice filed a lawsuit against the Government of Ontario for failing to consult the public when it ended Ontario’s cap and trade program.

The Ontario government brought a motion to dismiss the case brought by Ecojustice on the basis there was no point proceeding because the regulation to revoke cap and trade is no longer in force. The Court flatly rejected the government’s argument and said that the case should proceed.

Keith Stewart, Senior Energy Strategist with Greenpeace Canada, said:
“We are eager for Doug Ford’s government to have to answer for their actions over cap and trade, and glad that Greenpeace will get our day in court to protect the environment and Ontarians’ democratic rights. This is an important reminder that not even Doug Ford is above the law.”

Professor Amir Attaran, lawyer for the Ecojustice-uOttawa Environmental Law Clinic, said:
“The Ford government broke the law when it illegally failed to consult the public. We’re going to court to remind Premier Ford that winning an election does not give his government carte blanche to ignore the legal rights of Ontarians to be consulted on major changes to the laws and regulations that protect them from climate change.”

If the court finds that cap and trade was cancelled inappropriately and in an improper way, it will mean that one of the first actions taken by Doug Ford’s government on their first day in office was illegal.

The goal of Ontario’s cap and trade program was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by capping the amount of pollution specified companies are permitted to release. If the company exceeded the applicable limit, they were required to buy allowances at the auction or from other companies. Under the Climate Change Mitigation and Low-Carbon Economy Act the money raised from the cap-and-trade program was invested into green projects and initiatives to reduce emissions in other areas.

The case is scheduled to be heard in April this year and the court will determine whether the government failed to appropriate consult the public prior to cancelling cap and trade.

[1] The University of Ottawa and Ecojustice, Canada’s largest environmental law charity, are partners in the uOttawa-Ecojustice Environmental Law Clinic, a problem-based educational learning course designed to help train the next generation of environmental law and policy leaders.

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