The Five Ws of Ecojustice
Ecojustice is a national charitable organization made up of lawyers and scientists who provide free services to those who seek to protect the environment. Our goal is to ensure access to environmental justice and we advocate for strong and effective laws, and litigate to make sure those laws are enforced.
Founded in 1990 — as Sierra Legal Defence Fund — Ecojustice has grown from a team of two lawyers in Vancouver to a national organization that includes staff working in Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver.
This growth has been fueled by our success: landmark court victories and advocacy that informs and influences all levels of government.
Former Supreme Court Justice and honorary Ecojustice board member Claire L’Heureux-Dubé has acknowledged the critical role Ecojustice has played in the development of Canadian public law. “I certainly found their interventions a very useful contribution to the Supreme Court briefs and arguments,” L’Heureux-Dubé said.
Ecojustice in Ontario
Recently, Ecojustice’s work has included two prosecutions to protect migratory birds. Toronto environmental lawyer Dianne Saxe recently praised our efforts in Podolsky v. Cadillac Fairview Corp. Ltd., a case that ended with a significant legal precedent that will help reduce the number of birds colliding with buildings. “Ecojustice's victory is a good example of its important and innovative work for environmental protection,” Saxe said. “Ecojustice can and does take cases that no one else can, and makes a difference with a very small budget.”
We’ve also launched legal challenges to various approvals related to the continued operation and growth of nuclear power in Ontario and are involved in a constitutional case that seeks to have First Nation people protected from air pollution.
In October 2010, Ecojustice lawyers launched a lawsuit on behalf of Ron Plain and Ada Lockridge, members of Aamjiwnaang First Nation. Aamjiwnaang is located in the centre of Ontario’s “Chemical Valley,” an industrial area in Sarnia that’s home to a large share of Canada’s petrochemical industry. Ron and Ada allege that Ontario’s continued approval of additional pollution in Chemical Valley is a violation of sections 7 and 15 of the Charter. This case is expected to be heard in 2014.
Outside the courtroom
For more than two decades, Ecojustice’s outreach campaigns, workshops, investigations and reports have strengthened the work of conservation in Canada and abroad.
How you can make a difference
Unfortunately, we can’t get involved in every fight. But with your help, we can ensure that people looking to protect their environments have access to justice. You can partner with our lawyers on litigation and law reform or provide legal services to environmental organizations on a pro bono basis.
And, of course, you can always become one of our many dedicated supporters and join a group that includes people like Clayton Ruby, another of our honorary board members.
“Ecojustice actually pays lawyers to fight the huge corporate and government interests who so often profit in the destruction of the legacy that we leave to the next generations,” Ruby said. “No one else does this. No one else comes even close. And it is essential work. Why? Because the environment needs a good lawyer.”
To learn more about Ecojustice visit us at www.ecojustice.ca.
About the Author
Justin Duncan is Ecojustice’s Eastern Canada Program Director and a staff lawyer.