For immediate release: October 4, 2018

Statement from Environmental Defence’s Toxics Program Manager Muhannad Malas on Canada’s failure to prosecute Volkswagen after three years of investigation

Toronto, Ont. – This month marks the passage of three years since Volkswagen (VW) got caught for selling 11 million rigged vehicles worldwide and since the launch of a Canadian government investigation into the dieselgate scandal. As of today, and unlike proceedings in the U.S., Germany and other countries, zero progress has been reported publicly in Canada on the investigation and no charges have been laid against VW.

Canada’s complacency in enforcing environmental laws and holding big polluters such as VW accountable for their actions continues to send a dangerous message that companies can pollute and get away with it. Furthermore, not prosecuting VW for dumping toxic emissions into our air at levels up to 35 times the legal limit runs against Canada’s commitment to tackle climate change and air pollution.

In August 2017 Environmental Defence staff, represented by Ecojustice lawyers, launched a court case against the federal government after it refused to initiate investigations of violations of environmental laws by VW and to disclose progress on these investigations. Since then, government lawyers have chosen to protect VW by fighting the disclosure of investigation documents and have supported levying of court expenses against us for exercising our public participation rights under law.

VW sold approximately 120,000 vehicles in Canada with a defeat device that cheated the country’s emission standards and violated environmental law. According to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), the violations committed by VW could amount to $105 billion in fines.

By contrast, the U.S. has fined VW $12 billion, much of which will be reinvested in pollution prevention and e-vehicle programs. They have also arrested several company officials involved in the scandal. Germany has so far fined Volkswagen $1.5 billion.

Earlier this week Canada’s federal Environment Commissioner confirmed weak enforcement of Canada’s environmental pollution regulations, highlighting that around 50 per cent of regulations under CEPA remain unenforced and that government convictions have focused mostly on small family-operated dry cleaning businesses. This is an embarrassing fact and leaves a dirty stain on Canada’s environmental protection record. Canada could correct this by taking action and prosecuting Volkswagen.

Environmental Defence has developed informative and visual tools to illustrate the enforcement actions taken against VW worldwide and to provide updates about our legal case and the status of investigation in Canada. To see the full web-based materials and timeline of events, visit environmentaldefence.ca/volkswagen

About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence is Canada’s most effective environmental action organization. We challenge, and inspire change in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all.

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For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Sarah Jamal, sjamal@environmentaldefence.ca, 416-323-9521 ext. 251 (work), 905-921-7786 (cell)