ELC Articled Student at SCC

Micah Carmody:

On October 16, 2009, I had the pleasure of attending the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) in Ottawa, Ontario for the hearing of MiningWatch Canada, et al. v. Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, et al. The issue before the Court was whether the federal government acted unlawfully by excluding public input from its evaluation of the controversial proposed Red Chris Mine—a massive project that would turn a BC lake into a dumping ground for toxic mining waste. If successful, the appeal could provide protection for a number of Canadian lakes threatened by mining proposals by requiring more comprehensive environmental assessments with mandatory public participation. I have been involved with the case since the summer of 2008 when I worked at Ecojustice Canada’s Vancouver office. There I helped Lara Tessaro, counsel for MiningWatch, prepare the application for leave to appeal to the SCC. The following spring, as a student in the Environmental Law Clinic, I had the privilege of drafting a portion of the appellant’s factum, which involved extensive research on international environmental law. Attending the SCC for the first time was a memorable experience. All seven judges were well-informed and easily grasped the complexities of the applicable legislation. Counsel argued persuasively on behalf of MiningWatch and the six member environmental coalition intervener. Afterwards I joined the appellant, interveners, counsel and friends for a celebratory dinner in downtown Ottawa. No matter what the outcome, this was an undeniable success. MiningWatch is the first environmental organization to be granted leave to appeal to the SCC. I am especially grateful to the ELC for providing the opportunity to gain practical experience in support of public interest litigation through the Clinic program; to the Law Foundation of BC for their support of the ELC articled student position; and to the Tula Foundation for their support of the ELC’s core operations.