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The Supreme Court of Canada will hear an appeal on the question that has held Jessica Ernst's fracking case: are government agencies legally accountable for their actions?


Can Private Citizens Sue Government Regulators?

The Supreme Court of Canada will hear an appeal on the question that has held Jessica Ernst’s fracking case: are government agencies legally accountable for their actions?

Canada’s Supreme Court To Hear The Appeal on Jessica Ernst’s Fracking Suit

Originally Published on the ECOreport

Canada’s Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal that would make provincial agencies legally accountable for their actions. Jessica Ernst’s lawyers argue that the Alberta Government owes its citizens a primae facie duty of care, and provincial regulators acted in bad faith? The implications are far-reaching. Can private citizens sue government regulators?

“It is a big win. The Supreme Court of Canada has said ‘Yes’ to hearing our appeal that the charter trumps all. (Previously) In Alberta, the court of appeals ruled no, the charter doesn’t trump all. Elected officials can trump the charter, as well provincial agencies, ” said Ernst.


Ernst has not been able to drink, or bath in, the water from her well near Rosebud, Alberta, since Encana fractured the area in 2004. Her lawyers filed a suit against the regulator and Calgary-based energy company Encana eight years ago. They amended this to include Alberta Environment in 2011. So far, the courts have only dealt with the question of whether government agencies can be held accountable.

“I’ve always believed that my case is of utmost importance to all Canadians and water. I would never suffer through the legal systems just for my self and my water well. (My reason for doing it is) fracking is so bad.”

Though Queen’s Bench ordered the parties to exchange documents last year, Ernst says Encana “left out all the chemicals they injected into our drinking water here at Rosebud. They fractured around 200 wells into the fresh water zone. I didn’t get any of the chemicals injected from Encana.”


They have a responsible products program that they have been promoting in BC, so they can inject chemicals that are very deadly and toxic in northeast BC and will probably start in central BC also. There was a public presentation by one of their vice presidents that said they had a confidentiality agreement with the consultant they hired to revue the chemicals used in British Columbia and he got all the chemicals Encana injects.

I’m doing this lawsuit and, by court rules, Encana has to release everything to me. They are not even allowed to release trade secrets, under the legal court rules, but they didn’t (release the list of chemicals) and so it shows Canadians that this company has no respect for the law. They are disrespecting me, my legal team, the court rules, my law suit and, worse, the communities in Alberta that rely on drinking water. We still don’t know chemicals Encana injected.


Ernest said that in their statement of defense, the Albertan regulator denies that Ernst’s water is contaminated and added if it is contaminated it is “largely the responsibility of Encana.” Prior to this, they have been blaming bacteria, nature, or Ernst herself.

“Suddenly, there’s no word of nature, bacteria, me being a dirty water well owner or me being bad Albertan. That, to me, is an incredible admission that even they know Encana is guilty,” she said.

Photo Credits: Encana truck in the process of spraying drilling waste on farmer’s field near Rosebud, Alberta; the field afterward; fracking operation near Rosebud, Alberta

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Written By

is the President of Cortes Community Radio , CKTZ 89.5 FM, where he has hosted a half hour program since 2014, and editor of the Cortes Currents (formerly the ECOreport), a website dedicated to exploring how our lifestyle choices and technologies affect the West Coast of British Columbia. He writes for both writes for both Clean Technica and PlanetSave on Important Media. He is a research junkie who has written over 2,000 articles since he was first published in 1982. Roy lives on Cortes Island, BC, Canada.


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