Not many environmental cases reach the Supreme Court of
In this one, the appellant, Castonguay Blasting Ltd., was
working as a subcontractor for a construction project commissioned
by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario for the widening of a
provincial highway, when one of its blasting operations went awry
and rock fragments known as "fly rock" were released into
the air by an explosion. The fly rock landed on and damaged a
vehicle and a house on nearby private property, but no one was
injured. The incident was reported to the Ministry of Labour and to
the Ministry of Transportation, but not to the Ministry of the
Environment, which only learned of it several months later.
Castonguay Blasting was thus charged with failing to report the
discharge of a contaminant into the natural environment contrary to
s. 15(1) of the Environmental Protection Act.
The trial judge dismissed the charges on the basis that there
was no justification for concluding that ss. 14 and 15 of the
Environmental Protection Act should apply in the circumstances and
that the equities of the case lent no support to the justification
for the prosecution. The Superior Court allowed the appeal and
entered a conviction. The majority of the Court of Appeal dismissed
the appeal. The Supreme Court of Canada gave Castonguay permission
to appeal further, and heard the argument on May 17.
It's fun to watch the
webcast. Here are the principal factums. The LOW-CELA factum may be
viewed here. Then decide yourself who
made the better argument. I know who I think will win...
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