Lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court seeks class action, damages against e-cigarette giant Juul

Claim says Juul targets minors and misleads with advertising that suggests its products are safer than smoking


A statement of claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court claims Juul targets minors and misleads with advertising that suggests e-cigarettes and vaping are safer and healthier than smoking. (Craig Chivers/CBC)

A notice of civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court claims e-cigarette giant Juul targets minors with misleading advertising by claiming its products are safer and healthier than smoking.

In documents filed today naming Juul Labs Canada and Juul Labs Inc., plaintiffs Jaycen Stephens and Owen Mann-Campbell say they were 18 years old when they started using Juul e-cigarettes in 2018.

Both say they developed shortness of breath, chest pain, coughing, increased addiction to nicotine, anxiety and other harms, which their doctors connected to vaping.

The men claim they would not have bought or used Juul e-cigarettes had they “been provided with accurate information and/or warnings with respect to the possible health complications from vaping.”


A man exhales vapour from an electronic cigarette. (Eva Hambach/AFP/Getty Images)

The plaintiffs are seeking to have the lawsuit classified as a class action. None of the allegations has been tested in court.

In an emailed statement, Juul Labs Canada told CBC News, “We are currently reviewing the statement of claim and at this time are not able to provide any further comment.”

Juul products account for about three-quarters of all sales in the multibillion-dollar industry. MORE

Environmentalists take Nova Scotia to court over endangered species

Lawyers will return to court Oct. 1 to complete arguments


The Canada warbler is one species a group of environmentalists are highlighting in their case against Nova Scotia’s Lands and Forestry Department. (Jeff Nadler)

Environmental groups are asking a Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge to order the provincial Lands and Forestry Department to do more to protect endangered species.

The groups argue that the government is in violation of its own legislation covering species at risk because it has failed to come up with concrete plans to protect species and help them recover.

To focus their arguments, the groups ⁠— including the Federation of Nova Scotia Naturalists, Blomidon Naturalists Society and the Halifax Field Naturalists ⁠— zeroed in on six species.

Those included the Canada warbler and the eastern wood peewee, both songbirds, the black ash and ram’s head lady’s slipper, both plants, the wood turtle and the iconic mainland moose.

All have been identified by the government as species at risk.

But lawyers for the groups argued Monday that the government has failed to adhere to its own requirements to appoint advisory groups and come up with specific plans to save these species.


Bob Bancroft says the government needs to act to protect species at risk. (CBC)

In most cases, the lawyers said, it has been years since the problem was identified and nothing concrete has been done.

In addition to the environmental groups, biologist Bob Bancroft added his name to those calling on the government to act.

“I mean, obviously something’s not working here,” Bancroft said outside court.

“I think it’s basically stewardship. We don’t have a land ethic in this province. And if I own land like I do, I can desecrate it and nobody can do anything. We have laws for driving on the highway so it all works. Why don’t we have laws for how you use the land?” MORE

 

Ford’s senior officials hoped to keep mandate letters away from public view ‘as long as possible’

CBC News plans to continue fight for marching orders to ministers as Ontario looks to keep them secret


Premier Doug Ford’s government has gone to court to fight an order to release mandate letters to his cabinet ministers. (Tijana Martin/The Canadian Press)

Senior officials inside the Ford government planned to keep letters to cabinet members about their mandates secret as long as they could, a CBC News freedom of information request reveals.

CBC News first filed a request for copies of the mandate letters sent by Ontario Premier Doug Ford to all of Ontario’s 22 ministries and two non-portfolio responsibilities in July 2018. Mandate letters are a premier’s overall marching orders to cabinet ministers.

The request was denied by the cabinet office, which claimed disclosing the records would “reveal the substance of the executive council or its committees.”

But in an email dated July 31, 2018 obtained by CBC News, the executive director of policy to the premier suggests it was the government’s position to keep the letters from public view.

“Here’s the letters. As I said, the intention is to keep them to ourselves as long as possible,” Greg Harrington said in the email to the chief of staff’s senior policy adviser, Derek O’Toole.

O’Toole’s response: “Thanks Greg ! Understood 😊. ”

Exemption doesn’t apply: privacy commissioner

The revelation comes after Ontario’s information and privacy commissioner Brian Beamish disclosed the government plans to go to court to prevent the release of the letters to CBC News.

I ordered their release because Ontarians have a right to know what the government’s policy priorities are.– Brian Beamish, information and privacy commissioner

“There is no persuasive evidence or argument before me that disclosure (of the letters) would give rise to a chilling effect on cabinet deliberations …To a great extent, the mandate letters bear a close resemblance to the detailed policy platforms often produced by political parties during election campaigns,” Beamish said in his ruling.

In a blog posted Wednesday, Beamish explained that after reviewing the mandate letters, he determined they did not reveal government deliberations, the substance of any meetings or discussions by the premier’s office.

“The purpose of our freedom of information law is to support the public’s ‘right to know.’ Unless government records are exempt, they should be disclosed to the public. In this case, the mandate letters do not qualify for exemption as cabinet documents,” he said, adding he directed the cabinet office to disclose the letters by Aug. 16.

Beamish learned of court challenge Aug. 14


In a blog posted Wednesday, Ontario privacy commissioner Brian Beamish explained that after reviewing the mandate letters, he determined they did not reveal government deliberations, the substance of any meetings or discussions by the premier’s office. (CBC)

“I ordered their release because Ontarians have a right to know what the government’s policy priorities are,” he said.

Instead, on Aug. 14, Beamish said, he learned the government planned to take his office to court to prevent the letters from being released.

Mandate letters are commonly used by provincial governments across the country. Every other premier who issues them not only makes the letters public as a matter of course, they also publish them online as a deliberate way to allow the public to understand what the government plans to accomplish during its term.

MORE

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Ford government sues privacy commissioner to block release of cabinet letters

WATCH: Investigative reporter talks about Bayer/Monsanto’s efforts to discredit her work

“I really was just doing my job as a journalist.”

Investigative reporter Carey Gillam sat down with nonprofit newsroom The Real News Network to discuss recent reporting on how Bayer/Monsanto attempted to discredit her reporting on the weedkiller glyphosate— the active ingredient in Roundup.

The interview comes on the heels of Gillam’s piece in The Guardian last week, I’m a journalist. Monsanto built a step-by-step strategy to destroy my reputation, that outlined how Monsanto had an action plan specifically to discredit her reporting and her award-winning book, Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer, and the Corruption of Science.

“This campaign by Monsanto against me has been going on for a long time … well more than a decade certainly,” Gillam says in the Real News Network interview.

“And I really was just doing my job as a journalist. I was reporting on the new scientific evidence that was coming out about different risks—cancer risks and other health risks—associated with Monsanto’s herbicides.” SOURCE

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Canada Post spent over $21 million in legal fees fighting pay equity case

Gisèle Morneau, one of the original complainants in the pay equity case, said she’s disappointed Canada Post spent so much money “to fight equal rights.”

Canada Post spent over $21 million in legal fees fighting against correcting a wage gap between male and female employees in a pay equity case that dated back to the early 1980s, the Star has learned.

The amount has finally been revealed after the Crown corporation tried to keep it secret for six years, following an Access to Information request.

Gisèle Morneau, one of the complainants in the original pay equity case, chuckled when told about the dollar figure

“I am not surprised. But I am disappointed that this money was spent to fight equal rights,” she said, speaking in French over the phone from her Quebec City home.

“The amount is so high that I am overwhelmed.”

In the late ’70s and early ’80s, there was a marked pay gap between the salaries of mostly male letter-carriers and mail-sorters, and mostly female clerical workers like Morneau.

Her union, the Public Service Alliance of Canada, first filed a human rights complaint on behalf of 2,300 clerical workers in 1983, but Canada Post resisted and took it all the way to the Supreme Court.

In 2011, the court ruled that it had to make up half of the all the lost wages to its eligible employees.

Canada Post began sending out cheques, with interest, in August 2013. But Morneau said by that time it was too late for some of her colleagues. Several had died. All of them missed out on the opportunity to get the pay bump they wanted back at the start of their careers.

“It would have been much better for us to have this money when we were younger,” said Morneau, and probably cheaper for Canada Post. SOURCE

Bills insulating Ford government from lawsuits show it’s ‘closed for business,’ experts charge

Immunity clauses undermine ‘our reputation for a predictable, safe business environment,’ expert says


Doug Ford told supporters on the night of his election win that Ontario is now ‘open for business,’ but some experts say recent moves by his government show the opposite. (Tijana Martin/Canadian Press)

It’s not every day that the first two bills a government introduces have clauses that protect it from being sued, but in the past two weeks of the summer session at Queen’s Park, the Progressive Conservative government has done just that.

Bill 2, the Urgent Priorities Act, enacted back to work legislation for striking York University workers, introduced more transparency for compensation of Hydro One executives and the CEO, and cancelled the controversial White Pines wind turbine project in Prince Edward County. The bill passed on Wednesday it contained a clause that protects the government from civil liability.

Similarly, Bill 4 — tabled on Wednesday — cancelled cap and trade in Ontario and included a clause that says the government can’t be sued.

Despite Doug Ford’s election night pledge that Ontario is now open for business, some experts say the government’s move to protect itself from civil lawsuits by outside companies is a sign of exactly the opposite.

Open or closed?

“It’s unusual,” Nelson Wiseman, a political scientist at the University of Toronto, said of the use of the immunity clause.

University of Toronto political scientist Nelson Wiseman says two pieces of legislation meant to immunize the government from civil lawsuits send a message to companies that the province is closed for business.(Facebook) “It happens, but it’s not something that you want you want to do, certainly regularly. You’d only want to do it in extraordinary circumstance.

Wiseman said inserting an immunity clause into two major bills casts doubt on Ford’s assertion that the province is now putting out the welcome mat.

“It’s actually saying quite the opposite: Ontario is closed for business. If we don’t like your business we’ll do whatever we want to it and immunize ourselves from legal recourse by yourself.”

The White Pines wind turbine project — that was killed under Bill 2 — had been under development for nearly a decade.

Earlier this month, the president of WPD Canada, a subsidiary of the German company behind the project, said cancelling the project could cost more than $100 million. The compensation to the company will be limited to the direct cost it has incurred to this point. And the new bill prevents the company from suing.

“Spending 10 years and  $100 million to build this wind farm, only to have an election take place, a new government come in and be told they have to dismantle the project and leave the country: that sends a bad message” said Ross Laver, the senior vice president of policy and communications with the Business Council of Canada.


Cancelling the controversial White Pines Wind Project was one of Doug Ford’s key campaign promises. (Nancy Russell/CBC)

….”New governments are completely free to determine their own course. But this kind of sudden change in direction as a result of an election does have an unfortunate by-product,” said Ross.

“It undermines our reputation for a predictable, safe business environment.”

Whether the immunity clauses stand up in court, especially if they’re tested by international companies, remains to be seen. MORE

The power of community: How a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens felled a coal facility

Image result for ecojustice: The power of community: How a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens felled a coal facility
Photo by by Jim Maurer, via Flickr

There is a famous quotation often attributed to Margaret Mead that goes, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

The grassroots group Communities and Coal is proof of this.

When the Fraser Surrey Docks project threatened the health and safety of communities in B.C.’s Lower Mainland — and the climate —Communities and Coal stood up to the proposed coal transfer facility.

Members of the organization coordinated town hallsattended protests, and encouraged thousands of people to share their concerns about the project during a public comment period. With Ecojustice’s help, Communities and Coal and local residents Paula Williams and Christine Dujmovich also took their fight to court.

Against many odds, Communities and Coal brought people from across the Lower Mainland together and generated an impressive, sustained community opposition to this project, both on the ground and in the courts.

The project’s downfall is a testament to what can be achieved when community members come together to protect the places where they live, work, and play.

In February 2019, after a gritty, years-long fight, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority decided to pull the permit for the Fraser-Surrey Docks coal project.

Only a couple months later, the Federal Court of Appeal ruled Ecojustice’s ongoing legal case moot. Here’s a look at what these outcomes mean, both in a legal sense and for the community: MORE

Trudeau’s paradoxical definition of Indigenous consent

The federal government’s skewed view of Indigenous consent, and its apparent conflict of interest on the pipeline, could pose a legal problem.

Image result for policy options: Trudeau’s paradoxical definition of Indigenous consent
Photo: Indigenous drummers perform a drum circle prior to a demonstration against the approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline, in Victoria on June 22, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dirk Meissner

he latest cabinet approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline came less than a day after the federal government declared a climate emergency. While the irony was a dream for satirists, it wasn’t the biggest contradiction of the day. Instead, it was Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s bizarre definition of free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) with regard to projects that will impact Indigenous land and rights: “[FPIC] is what we engaged in doing with Indigenous communities over the past number of months. It is engaging, looking with them, listening to the issues they have and responding meaningfully to the concerns they have wherever possible.”

By Trudeau’s definition, consent is: listening to issues, responding to concerns wherever possible, and then forging ahead. As Indigenous lawyer and scholar Pam Palmater pointed out, imagine if that definition of consent was applied in the context of sexual relations?

The prime minister’s comments largely went unnoticed in the mainstream media, but his government’s skewed understanding of FPIC and half-hearted attempts at consultations with Indigenous communities remain the core reason it will be unable to move the project forward. Moreover, Ottawa’s purchase of the pipeline created an inherent conflict of interest as it purported to sit down for meaningful consultations.

“Listening to the issues”

So, what exactly was the government “engaged in doing” with Indigenous communities since last August, when the Federal Court of Appeal found that “Canada did not fulfil its duty to consult” on the pipeline and quashed the National Energy Board’s approval of it?

Many of the First Nations that had appealed to the court expressed their dissatisfaction with the renewed Stage III consultation process that the court had mandated.

The Squamish First Nation said it had been assured there were no time limits for the consultations, only to discover that cabinet did have an end date in mind. Khelsilem, a Squamish Nation spokesperson, told a news conference that they had been sent documents for feedback after May 22, the federal government’s self-imposed deadline for comments.

“What we experienced was a shallow attempt at consultation that resulted in a failure to address our concerns,” said Khelsilem. “The failure to meaningfully engage with rights holders means this government is either not serious about building this pipeline or not serious about respecting Indigenous rights.”

Chief Lee Spahan of Coldwater Indian Band said, “The meaningful dialogue that was supposed to happen never happened.” A study of the community’s aquifer had not yet occurred, and an existing pipeline spill has yet to be remediated.

Chief Leah George-Wilson of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation said that consultation once again fell well below the mark set by the Supreme Court of Canada in a number of key decisions, including Tsilhqot’in. This constitutional obligation of the Crown’s was re-emphasized in the Federal Court of Appeal ruling. George-Wilson also noted that the federal government was in a conflict of interest – that its multiple hats as proponent, decision-maker, enforcer of laws and fiduciary to First Nations and all Canadians made it impossible to make an open-minded, unbiased decision.

The Right to a Stable Climate Is the Constitutional Question of the Twenty-first Century

A rally following a hearing in Kelsey Cascadia Rose Juliana v. the United States, which is better known as the climate kids’ lawsuit, in Portland, Oregon. Photograph by Robin Loznak / ZUMA

On June 4th, in a packed courtroom in Portland, Oregon, Judge Andrew Hurwitz, of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, posed an unusual hypothetical question. “Assume that we have rogue raiders come across the Canadian border of the Northwest. They are kidnapping children of a certain age and murdering them,” he said. “The White House refuses to do anything and Congress doesn’t act. Can those people”—the terrorized families and communities—“go to court to compel action?” He was asking Jeff Clark, the lawyer representing the federal government, the defendant in the case. Clark replied, “My answer is no.”

Judge Hurwitz, along with Judges Mary Murguia and Josephine Staton, was presiding over oral arguments in Kelsey Cascadia Rose Juliana v. the United States, better known as the climate kids’ lawsuit. In August of 2015, the twenty-one plaintiffs, who then ranged in age from eight to nineteen years old, sued the Obama Administration and various federal agencies, alleging that the government’s policies on fossil fuels advanced catastrophic climate change and therefore violated the right, guaranteed to them under the Fifth Amendment, that no one shall be “deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” In other words, as Judge Hurwitz’s hypothetical suggested, their suit is an attempt to compel action from a government that is ignoring (and furthering) a life-threatening danger that they face. Since then, the case has ricocheted through the courts, gaining strength as urgency around climate change has increased and the Trump Administration has continued to deny that a problem exists. (“The climate goes both ways,” President Trump said in London, last week. “I believe that there’s a change in weather and I think it changes both ways.”) Instead, the Administration has aggressively promoted and expanded the use of fossil fuels, recently announcing that natural gas would be rebranded as “freedom gas.”

Hurwitz asked his question at the start of the hearing, establishing the stakes and reflecting the gravity with which the judges were weighing the plaintiffs’ claims. It pointed to an issue at the heart of the case, and at the heart of most climate litigation—the separation of powers. “The central issue the Ninth Circuit is grappling with is what is the role of the courts vis a vis Congress and the executive branch,” Michael Gerrard, a professor at Columbia Law School and the faculty director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, wrote me in an e-mail. “If a building is on fire and all the firefighters are off at a convention, can the neighbors break into the firehouse and run the firetrucks themselves? Or do they have to wait for permission, while the building burns down? Likewise, if the planet is on fire and Congress and the Administration are checked out, can the courts act on their own?”

Since most major environmental statutes date to the nineteen-seventies, and Congress has not been able to pass a single major environmental law since 1990, the Environmental Protection Agency, other federal agencies, and the courts have been forced to address current problems with laws that are decades old. (The main problem now is that the Senate will not act. In early May, as the House prepared to vote on a new bill, the Climate Action Now Act, which would force the Trump Administration to remain in the Paris climate agreement, the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, said that it would “go nowhere.”) Once Trump was elected, and federal agencies no longer had a mandate to address climate change, the courts became the only branch of government where action might be possible. But, in the absence of adequate climate-policy laws, the courts must find their right to act in the Constitution. Two days after Trump’s election, a federal judge for the District of Oregon, Ann Aiken, found that right and issued a major decision, denying the government’s motion to dismiss the Juliana case. “Where a complaint alleges governmental action is affirmatively and substantially damaging the climate system in a way that will cause human deaths, shorten human lifespans, result in widespread damage to property, threaten human food sources, and dramatically alter the planet’s ecosystem, it states a claim for a due process violation,” Aiken wrote. “I have no doubt that the right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life is fundamental to a free and ordered society.” A trial date was set for early last year, then postponed until last fall. The government, meanwhile, turned to the Supreme Court, asking the Justices to prevent the trial from going forward. In November, they declined to do so, determining that the government needed to bring its objections before the Ninth Circuit first. The Ninth Circuit now must decide whether the case can, finally, proceed to trial.  MORE

 

TAKE ACTION! PM Trudeau: Don’t let Imperial Metals off the hook for the Mt. Polley mining disaster

Image result for Sumofus PM Trudeau: Don't let Imperial Metals off the hook for the Mt. Polley mining disaster

Just today, Canada’s Auditor General released an alarming report urging Trudeau’s government to do a better job to sanction mining companies when they fail to protect Canadian waters and fish. 

And there is one mining company in particular that Trudeau needs to act on — Imperial Metals.

Almost five years ago, Imperial Metals’ Mount Polley Mine spilled 25 million cubic metres of toxic waste into pristine Quesnel Lake, one of the deepest lakes in the world. The lake is home to multiple fish species, and supplies drinking water to local communities. Until now, the federal government has let Imperial Metals off the hook for the largest mining waste spill in Canadian history — but we’re going to change this. 

The clock is ticking: the government has until August 4th, 2019, to charge Imperial Metals. That’s why we need to turn up the heat now and force Trudeau’s hand.

Tell Trudeau’s government not to let Imperial Metals off the hook. Enforce the Fisheries Act now!