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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Grain Farmers of Ontario Neonic Appeal Dismissed

The Court of Appeal for Ontario has dismissed the appeal by the Grain Farmers of Ontario ("GFO") related to its challenge of Ontario's neonicotinoid regulations.  As noted by the Court, GFO was concerned that the regulation was unworkable, would produce little benefit, and would significantly impair the ability of grain farmers to protect their crops from damaging insects.  However, the Court of Appeal has ruled that the regulation is not ambiguous and that GFO has not identified a genuine dispute about the rights and obligations of farmers - "to grant the remedy that GFO seeks would be tantamount to amending a regulation through interpretation, a remedy well outside the court's discretionary power to order declaratory relief."

The Court of Appeal found that the motion judge (who originally dismissed GFO's application) was correct to strike the application on the basis that it presented no genuine issue for determination. Even if, as GFO pleaded, the regulation creates financial hardship, is futile, and provides little environmental benefit, "neither the wisdom nor the efficacy of a regulation is a justiciable issue."  The remedies sought by GFO are "solely within the powers of the legislative and executive branches of government."

Thankfully for grain farmers, the Court did not order costs of the appeal against GFO. While GFO will likely be responsible for the costs of its own lawyers, it won't have to pay the costs of the government's lawyers.

Read the decision at: Grain Farmers of Ontario v. Ontario (Environment and Climate Change).