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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Grain Farmers of Ontario v. MOECC decision now available

Grain Farmers of Ontario ("GFO") has now posted a copy of the decision dismissing its challenge of Ontario's new neonicotinoid regulations at its website: 2015 ONSC 6581. GFO alleged that the regulations in their current form would cause irreparable harm to Ontario corn and grain farmers, and asked for a stay of the regulations until May, 2016 or "such time as the requirements of the Regulation can be met."  Justice S.A.Q. Akhtar of the Superior Court heard the case and declined to order a stay.  He also allowed the cross-motion by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change ("MOECC") ruled that GFO's application disclosed no reasonable cause of action. The application was dismissed on that basis.

On review of the GFO application, Justice Akhtar was "of the view that the application is concerned with the economic interests of the affected farmers rather than any property rights.  Prior to the Regulation, the farmers did not have an unrestricted right to use their lands as they wished but were subject to a highly regulated pesticide regime. ... If there is no constitutional challenge or allegation of ultra vires, then what is GFO's aim in making the application? ... In my view, GFO is not asking for a determination of rights that depend on the interpretation of the Regulation but a re-writing of that Regulation in a manner that would permit the effects of the Regulation to be delayed to its advantage.  It is not the job of this court to pronounce on the efficacy or wisdom of government policy absent the aforementioned constitutional or jurisdictional challenges, neither of which are made here...".

Thankfully for GFO, the MOECC did not seek any costs of the court proceeding against GFO (though GFO will most likely have incurred its own legal costs in the matter).  According to its website, GFO is evaluating its options and says that it has not conceded on this matter.