David Gooderham practiced law in Vancouver for thirty-five years in civil litigation. He was called to the Bar in British Columbia in 1975 and retired at the end of 2012. He attended the University of Toronto, taking an honours degree in economics and political science and an LLB from the University of Toronto Law School in 1970. For the past ten years, he has been examining the environmental review processes and various reports that the Federal Government has used to justify the ongoing expansion of Canada’s oil production. With long experience in how expert evidence is used in the judicial process, and how it can be misused, Gooderham has documented the repeated failures and refusals of the government and of its energy agency, the CER, to consider the available evidence of climate science and to assess the global emissions implications of the government’s plan to continue increasing Canada’s oil production for another 20 years and maintain high levels of production to 2050.
His writings have included submissions to Environment Canada in June 2016 critiquing the draft report Review of Greenhous Gas Emissions Estimates for the TMX pipeline expansion and to the Ministerial Panel for the Trans Mountain Pipeline in August 2016. Most recently, in March 2022, he was invited to testify before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development regarding government subsidies that will support the continued growth of Canada’s oil production.
Jennifer Nathan has a Science degree in biology and a Masters of Education Degree. Early in her career, she worked for ten years as a biotechnician and interpretive naturalist in Northern British Columbia and the Yukon, and as the coordinator of a Scientists in the Schools program in the Yukon Territory. She subsequently provided professional development training to teachers on experiential science and was a teacher of high school science in B.C. She is deeply engaged in climate issues, advocating for the inclusion of climate literacy in schools and engaging with her municipal government on transportation policy issues.
Both were arrested in 2018 after peacefully disobeying an injunction relating to the construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and charged with criminal contempt. They raised the common law defence of necessity in a lengthy legal challenge that took two years to complete. Their necessity defence was ultimately dismissed by three judges of the B.C. Court of Appeal in September 2020. The appeal judges ruled unanimously that even if climate change is now an “imminent peril” that threatens the survivability of human life – and even assuming the evidence presented to the Court fully supports the conclusion that Canada’s expanding oil production is now materially contributing to the rapidly escalating risk of a catastrophic outcome (the court explicitly declined to decide that question and refused to even consider the evidence) – nothing could excuse an act disobeying the law. The court stated that the defendants “could have chosen to do nothing”.