Interested in the Castonguay appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada? Everything is now online, except the decision. This includes the webcast (see below).
Not many environmental cases reach the Supreme Court of Canada.
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.