Protection of Belugas against drilling in Cacouna
Acting pro bono with Me Michel Bélanger, TJL won one of the most important legal victories ever won for the protection of the environment.
The Plaintiffs, a collection of environmental defence groups, obtained an injunction ordering the suspension of exploratory work at Cacouna where Energy East planned to construct an oil tanker port for its transcontinental oil pipeline. Since the port was to be located in a beluga whale habitat on the Saint Lawrence river, the Plaintiffs argued that the exploratory work did not respect environmental norms and threatened the survival of the beluga whale, an endangered species.
The Honourable Justice Claudine Roy of the Quebec Superior Court initially rejected the request for an provisional injunction. After a second hearing where a more detailed evidence was presented, Justice Roy issued an interlocutory injunction in favour of the Plaintiffs, primarily because the Quebec Minister of the Environment was incapable of explaining how and why it came to the decision to authorize the exploratory work. Justice Roy further held the balance of probabilities favoured the issuing of interlocutory injunction because the exploratory work risked injuring the beluga’s habitat.