Peter A Allard School of Law

In Their Own Words Plaintiffs & Their Lawyers Speak About Youth Climate Cases – Mathur v Ontario

Centre for the Law and the Environment Assistant

Centre for the Law and the Environment Assistant

Jan 27, 2024

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On January 24, 2024 the Centre for Law and the Environment held part one of a four-part series on youth climate cases. The series, "In Their Own Words: Plaintiffs and Their Lawyers Speak About Leading Youth Climate Cases", covered four leading cases from Canada and the US in which youth are demanding climate accountability and action from their government. Each session in the series delved into a particular case and attendees got to learn about the case from one of the youth plaintiffs and one of their lawyers. Part 1 focused on the case Mathur v Ontario. 

About Mathur et. Al. v. His Majesty the King in Right of Ontario

In November 2019, seven young climate leaders launched a legal challenge against the Ontario government’s decision to significantly weaken the province’s 2030 climate target, arguing that Ontario’s decision violates youth and future generations’ rights to life, security of the person, and equality protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

The case has achieved multiple "firsts." In November 2020, a court recognized for the first time in Canadian history that climate change has the potential to violate Charter rights, giving the youth the green light to move forward to a full hearing. In September 2022, Mathur became the first children's climate case in the world to be considered on the merits, on the basis of a full evidentiary record. In April 2023 it became the first such case to be decided after a full hearing of the evidence. While Justice Vermette of the Ontario Superior Court ultimately dismissed the case, she made several key rulings in the applicants' favour. 

The applicants' appeal is scheduled to be heard by the Ontario Court of Appeal on January 15 and 16, 2024. On appeal, the applicants intend to show that Ontario is not just failing to act on climate change but actively causing the increased risk of harm and death to Ontarians. 

Access the Recording


This session is eligible for 1 hour of CPD credit.


About the Speakers

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Danielle Gallant

Danielle Gallant is a staff lawyer at Ecojustice, Canada’s largest environmental charity. As a member of Ecojustice’s Climate Change team, Danielle has worked on several prominent constitutional files, including the References re Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act and the Mathur et al. v. Ontario case, which is proceeding to the Court of Appeal for Ontario. She previously articled at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
Danielle is a member of the Quebec Bar and the Law Society of Ontario. She holds a Licentiate in Civil Law (LL.L.) and an Honours Bachelor in International Development and Globalization (B.Soc.Sc.) from the University of Ottawa, where she graduated summa cum laude. She also completed her Master’s in Global Sustainability and Environmental Law (LL.M.) at the same university, during which she focused her research on the intersection between environmental justice and human rights and on Charter-based climate change litigation.
Ecojustice uses the power of the law to defend nature, combat climate change, and fight for a healthy environment. Its strategic, public interest lawsuits and advocacy lead to precedent-setting court decisions and law and policy that deliver lasting solutions to Canada’s most urgent environmental problems. As Canada’s largest environmental law charity, Ecojustice operates offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, and Halifax.
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Shaelyn Wabegijig

Shaelyn Wabegijig is Algonquin Anishinaabe, German and Irish. She is a member of Timiskaming First Nation, Caribou Clan, and grew up in Rama First Nation. She received her honours bachelor's degree from Trent University in Indigenous Studies and Philosophy. She worked for multiple non-profits for 5 years with a focus on Indigenous knowledge, intersectional environmentalism, and climate justice. She is currently a full-time master's student at the University of Victoria in the Indigenous Governance program, living in Orillia Ontario. She is also one of seven youth suing the Ontario government for their dangerously inadequate climate targets.
info on whole series

  • Centre for Law and the Environment
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