Canadian Leaders Honor Irwin, Hudson
OTTAWA, ONTARIO — With numerous leaders of the Canadian political and legal system in attendance for the packed Ottawa premiere of A Chemical Reaction on Thursday evening, EcoJustice founder Stewart Elgie summed up the event in a word: “Extraordinary.”
“What can I say? It’s an incredible movie about an amazing town,” said Elgie, the attorney who helped Hudson, Quebec, emerge victorious in the 2001 landmark legal battle against the lawn chemical giant then known as ChemLawn. Now a law professor and legal scholar, Elgie saved his highest praise for a group of people at the core of the story.
“Watching the movie, I realized I have been deficient in one aspect of my career in that I have never met June Irwin,” he said. “I will have to change that. And we owe so many thanks to Mayor Michael Elliott and that council for taking that bold step. Like that Margaret Mead quote said, it’s always a small group of committed citizens who effect real change. The people of Hudson were leaders who made life better for millions of Canadians.”
Retired Canadian Supreme Court Justice Claire L’Heureux Dube was the guest of honor for the Thursday evening event, which was hosted by the University of Ottawa in its Moot Court Auditorium. She suggested further recognition for Dr. Irwin, the dermatologist who first brought the question of lawn pesticide toxicity to the Hudson town council in 1985.
“It’s high time June Irwin receives the Order of Canada,” said Dube. “I wish I could sign the Order myself.”
Among the other notable attendees, Thomas Mulcair, the Deputy Leader of the New Democratic Party, received loud applause in recognition of his environmental advocacy. He appears in several scenes in the film, which was shot from June of 2008 though June of 2009.
“This is a message that people across Canada need to hear,” he said. “Ordinary citizens need to know that they really can make a difference.”