Jessica Ernst’s long fight to challenge legislation putting energy regulator above the law reaches top court.
For almost two hours, all nine justices questioned lawyers from both sides in a case that will determine if legislation can grant government agencies blanket immunity from lawsuits based on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
At times the debate was so bogged down in legal jargon and little known cases that it felt as though the participants were holding a conversation in a foreign language.
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But the heart of the matter remained simple: Can a regulator prevent a citizen from suing it for damages when the citizen feels their charter rights have been violated?
Ernst alleges the Alberta Energy Regulator violated her rights by characterizing her as a “criminal threat” and barring all communication with her.
The claims are part of her multipronged lawsuit related to the regulation of fracking. She says fracking contaminated aquifers near her homestead near Rosebud, about 110 kilometres east of Calgary, and is seeking $33 million in damages.
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