Environmental Justice

Friends of the Earth Canada stands on guard for people and the planet. People from vulnerable communities are often on the front lines, confronting the health and environmental impacts of toxic contaminants from mines and industries. We support environmental justice for communities across Canada, through ground-breaking legal challenges and public education.

Polluter pays: Newfoundland and Labrador v. AbitibiBowater Inc.

The Supreme Court of Canada is expected to announce a decision soon on the case of Newfoundland and Labrador v. AbitibiBowater Inc. et al (now known as Resolute Forest Products).

This ground-breaking legal case represents the first time Canada’s insolvency laws have dealt with the polluter pays principle — in this case, for historic contamination by AbitibiBowater’s mining, shipping and pulp and paper operations in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Friends of the Earth, represented by Ecojustice, intervened to argue that insolvent corporations must fulfill their environmental obligations and not pass the full cost of environmental cleanups on to taxpayers.

Communities are now coping with the toxic legacy of AbitibiBowater’s century of operations in the province. Soil sampling in Grand Falls-Windsor, Stephenville, Botwood and Buchans has revealed the presence of heavy metals, arsenic and other contaminants — threatening the health and environment of people in these communities.

The Court decision will have implications for communities across Canada. Taxpayers should not be left with the high clean-up costs for toxic contamination. If the Supreme Court affirms its strong support for the polluter pays principle, the province will be able to claim the costs of cleaning up the contaminated sites.

Background information

Chronology: Polluter pays: Newfoundland and Labrador v. AbitibiBowater Inc.

Media release: Friends of the Earth, Ecojustice ask Supreme Court to respect polluter pays principle

CBC News: Heavy metals, poisons dot N.L. Abitibi sites

Supreme Court of Canada case information: Factums

Supreme Court of Canada case information: Webcast of the hearing on November 16, 2011

Environmental class action: St. Lawrence Cement Inc. v. Barrette

Background information

Media release: Canada’s top court upholds right to launch environmental class action lawsuits

Communiqué : Le plus haut tribunal au Canada appuie le droit d’intenter des recours collectifs en matière d’environnement

Media release: Groups intervene in Canada’s top court to protect right to launch environmental class action lawsuits

Communiqué : Intervention en Cour suprême du Canada de groupes environnementaux soucieux de préserver le droit au recours collectif en matière environnementale

Dirty deal: Irving oil refinery exempted from environmental impact assessment

Background information

Media release: Lawsuit challenges Baird over proposed Irving oil refinery

Media release: Dirty deal: Environment Minister exempts Canadian refinery from environmental impact assessment