Lauren Wright, one of the plaintiffs in La Rose v. Canada.

Lauren Wright and Chris Tollefson speak with CBC The Current about next steps for La Rose

December 22, 2023

Lauren Wright is one of youth plaintiffs in the La Rose v. Canada lawsuit against the federal government.
Photo Credit: Lauren Wright, 2023.

VANCOUVER, B.C. (22 December 2023) — Chris Tollefson (co-counsel for the plaintiffs) and plaintiff Lauren Wright spoke with Mark Kelly (The Current, CBC Radio) about the Federal Court of Appeal’s ruling in La Rose v. Canada and the road ahead for the case.

As a young climate activist living in Saskatoon and experiencing the daily impacts of climate change, Lauren mentions the overwhelming relief she felt when she found out that the Federal Court of Appeal reversed the lower court’s decision and allowed their climate case to proceed to trial.

When asked what motivated Lauren and her co-plaintiffs to take the federal government to court, she said: “I think with a lot of us, we found no matter what we did as activists, we were not having our rights recognized in a way that gave us equal standing with those who are creating the laws and creating the systems that have caused us harm.”

Lauren discusses how both future and present-day consequences of climate change are concerns in the case, noting the physical and mental health struggles she lives with as a result of wildfire smoke and extreme temperature patterns across her province.

Both Lauren and Chris explain how the plaintiffs’ personal stories and the best available science are critical aspects of presenting the case. As co-counsel, Chris explains that: “The goal here really is to force action, compel action, or persuade governments to take action on climate change, and for the courts to be part of that process of dialogue.”

When asked what the desired outcome for the case would be, Lauren replies: “The big thing for me is legal accountability… having legally binding frameworks that must be obeyed, really, is the hope here”.

Listen to the interview.

Read the decision.

The plaintiffs have been represented for the past 4 years by co-counsel Arvay Finlay LLP and Tollefson Law Corporation. The appeal was argued by Reidar Mogerman, K.C. and Chris Tollefson. Our Children’s Trust, David Suzuki Foundation, Pacific Centre for Environmental Law and Litigation (CELL) have partnered to support this important case.

Katrina Darychuk

Law Student

Katrina (she/her) is a J.D. candidate at the University of Victoria, Faculty of Law with interests in criminal law, disability justice, and environmental litigation. Most recently, Katrina worked in Whitehorse, YK with the Public Prosecution Service and will clerk with the Supreme Court of British Columbia in 2025.  

She holds a BA from University of Toronto in Critical Equity Studies and Ethics and a diploma in Theatre Arts from Langara College. Prior to law, Katrina worked as theatre director and creator across Canada. Her passions include gardening, thrifting, and walking her beloved dog Joe.

Patrick McDermott

Law Student

  • Santa Cruz Superior Court
  • California Attorney General’s Office, Land Use and Conservation Section

Patrick is a J.D. candidate at the University of Victoria, Faculty of Law. He is passionate about public interest environmental law as well as criminal justice reform. Patrick has a B.A. from University of California, Davis, and has legal experience in both Canada and the United States. Upon graduation, he will be clerking at the BC Supreme Court in Vancouver. In his spare time, he can be found backpacking, woodworking, baking, or running with his dog.

Lydia Young

Articled Student

  • 2022 Student mentor in the Pacific Centre for Environmental Law and Litigation | educational program
  • Associate Fellow, Centre for International Sustainable Development Law
 
Lydia received her J.D. from the University of Victoria in 2023 with a concentration in environmental law and sustainability and will be called to the British Columbia Bar in 2024. Lydia is pursuing an 2024-25 LL.M. in Global Environment and Climate Change Law at the University of Edinburgh.
 
As an articling student at Tollefson Law, Lydia has gained experience working on environmental, constitutional and natural resource litigation and has sat at counsel table before the BC Supreme Court and BC Court of Appeal. Lydia is pursuing a career that focuses on biodiversity conservation, natural resource law, green economies and sustainable development.

Anthony Ho

Associate

  • Program Coordinator at the Pacific Centre for Environmental Law and Litigation 
 
Anthony received his J.D. from the University of Victoria in 2014, and was called to the British Columbia bar in May 2015. His areas of practice in public interest environmental law have included environmental assessments, regulatory hearings, judicial reviews, and trials. 
 
He has appeared before the Federal Court and Federal Court of Appeal, the BC Supreme Court, and various tribunals including the National Energy Board and BC Environmental Appeal Board. 
 
In his capacity as Program Coordinator at the Pacific Centre for Environmental Law and Litigation (CELL), he helps deliver CELL’s educational program, which trains law students in litigation practice skills through exposure to real-life pieces of public interest environmental litigation.
 
He also holds a Master of Public Administration (UVic ’14), a B.Sc. in environmental sciences (UBC ’10), and a B.A. in political science (UBC ’10). He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Law and Society at UVic.

Chris Tollefson

Principal

  • Professor of Law, Faculty of Law, University of Victoria
  • Founding Executive Director of CELL – Pacific Centre for Environmental Law and Litigation
  • Past President of Ecojustice
 
Chris is the founding principal of Tollefson Law and a Professor of Law at the University of Victoria. He has degrees from Queen’s, University of Victoria and Osgoode Hall Law School, and clerked at the BC Court of Appeal.
 
Chris has appeared at all levels of trial and appeal court, and before various environmental regulatory boards and tribunals. He was counsel to BC Nature and Nature Canada during the Northern Gateway and Trans Mountain pipeline hearing processes.


 
He has published on a diverse range of environmental and natural resource topics including forestry, contaminated sites, environmental governance and assessment, eco-certification, and access to justice. The fourth edition of his national environmental textbook (co-authored with Prof. Meinhard Doelle) was published by Thomson Reuters in 2023.
 
He loves the outdoors, late night pool games, early morning reno projects, and dog sitting.