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Appeal court to review exemptions in at-risk species law

Janice Wright,
April 18 2016

A case heading to the Ontario Court of Appeal this week will seek to overturn a provincial law that exempts several industries from protecting at-risk plants and animals under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), Toronto civil litigator Janice Wright tells AdvocateDaily.com.

Ontario Nature, along with CPAWS Wildlands League, will appear before Ontario’s top court on April 19, to challenge a Divisional Court ruling which upheld the ESA exemptions for forestry, mining, energy, residential development and other activities.

Wright, partner with Wright Temelini LLP, who is on the board of directors of Ontario Nature, notes, “This is a very important case respecting the protection of species at risk and their underlying habitat. When it was introduced in 2007, the ESA was considered the gold standard law for species protection in North America. The regulations at issue in this appeal have altered the fundamental purpose of the Act.”

The appeal will be argued by lawyers Lara Tessaro and Anastasia Lintner on behalf of the two environmental groups.

The case marks the first time Ontario’s top court will interpret the ESA, which is considered the last line of defense for the province’s endangered plants and animals.

The appeal will be heard on April 19 starting at 10:30 a.m. in courtroom two of the Court of Appeal for Ontario, located at 130 Queen St. W. in Toronto.