Next month, Canadians will launch one of the largest acts of civil disobedience in the country’s history. Over 80 influential leaders from across the country, representing a wide cross-section of “business, First Nations, environmental, labour, academic, medical and artistic communities…announced an upcoming mass sit-in in front of the provincial legislature in Victoria, British Columbia on October 22,” according to the DefendOurCoast.ca announcement.
I remember the first time I sat around a kitchen table in a rural community giving environmental law advice. I was speaking with a farmer who was beset by pollution running across his fields and destroying his fish and hunting camp along the Rideau Canal.
The family had asked my law firm what we could do about the landfill leachate from a major Ontario city dump that was destroying habitat. No one from the City, the waste company or government had offered to help them. Now everyone in the room — his wife and mother at the wood stove, his sons and daughters and grandkids around the table — was keenly awaiting what I had to say.
I asked: Are there any fish in the fields, ditches or nearshore? The family told me the bay was once the best fishing area around and that fish still spawned in the fields and ditches every spring.
I asked: Can I get access to the water draining from the dump to sample as it runs onto your land? The family told me the exact locations where the water bubbled up on the dump walls and ran year-round onto their property.
I answered: I can help.