Three Gowling WLG lawyers receive CPHA National Public Health Hero Award

02 June 2021

A trio of environmental lawyers from Gowling WLG – Jennifer King, Michael Finley, and Liane Langstaff – have been honoured by the Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) with the National Public Health Hero Award.

The award recognizes Canadians whose efforts have resulted in truly positive change to public health on a national level. In broad terms, it was created to enhance our awareness and understanding of the role of public health in Canada.

The CPHA was represented pro bono by King, Finley, and Langstaff between November 2018 and March 2021, and was granted intervenor status before the Saskatchewan and Ontario Courts of Appeal, as well as at the Supreme Court of Canada, regarding the constitutionality of the federal Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act (GGPPA).

In March, the Supreme Court of Canada released its decision regarding the GGPPA, with the majority confirming that the federal carbon pricing backstop is, indeed, constitutional. Notably, this was the first time in nearly 25 years the Supreme Court updated its jurisprudence with respect to the "national concern" doctrine of the Constitution's peace, order, and good government power.

"Assisting the CPHA to further the public health perspective in the carbon pricing references was a career highlight for our team. Our submissions advanced our client's efforts to recognize and combat the public health threat posed by greenhouse gas emissions," said King, on behalf of the team. She is a partner at Gowling WLG, with a national practice in environmental law and its intersections with constitutional, Indigenous, public health, municipal, and regulatory law.

King worked tirelessly alongside Finley, an associate whose practice focuses on environmental litigation, environmental offences, and dispute resolution, and Langstaff, an associate practising in the areas of environmental litigation, environmental assessments, land-use planning, and climate change.

"We were honoured to have the firm's acumen in environmental and constitutional law assist the courts of appeal and the Supreme Court in deciding this historic case," King added. "The majority of the Supreme Court confirmed, in no uncertain terms, that climate change is real and it poses a grave threat to humanity's future, including serious and irreversible consequences for human health."

As it stands, the federal carbon pricing backstop currently applies in full or in part in Ontario, New Brunswick, Manitoba, Nunavut, Yukon, Alberta, PEI, and Saskatchewan. The firm continues to monitor changing greenhouse gas regulations and jurisprudence in Canada.

Want to learn more? Gowling WLG's environmental lawyers have a deep understanding of legislation, and deliver practical advice clients can quickly understand and use. We act for entrepreneurs, businesses, funders, and public authorities across all sectors. Get in touch with the firm's global Environmental Law Group.