Friday, 23 August, 2019

Ottawa's carbon tax is constitutional, Ontario's high court tips

Ottawa's carbon-pricing law valid, Ontario's top court rules Update: Ontario's top court rules federal carbon-pricing law is constitutional
Sandra Phillips | 01 July, 2019, 08:46

"It is unfortunate that Conservative politicians. continue to waste taxpayers' dollars fighting climate action in court rather than taking real action to fight climate change", McKenna said in a statement.

"Following the decision, Doug Ford announced that he will seek leave to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada, the highest court in the country, saying that 'the federal government's carbon tax is making life more expensive for Ontarians and is putting jobs and businesses at risk". The act was a legitimate response to potentially catastrophic climate change, federal lawyers argued.

In protest of the pricing system, Ontario's Ford government asked for a court reference on the constitutionality of its implementing legislation, the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act. "They are regulatory in nature and linked to the capabilities of the act". "They are not taxes".

No single province or community of provinces can save minimal national requirements to reduce emissions, the court said.

"The reduction of (greenhouse) emissions can not be dealt with in a piecemeal manner", the court said.

In a dissenting opinion, Justice Grant Huscroft said climate change did not amount to an "emergency case" and warned against allowing rhetoric to colour the constitutional analysis.

"Carbon pricing is handiest one methodology to addressing (greenhouse gasoline) emissions - one in every of many policy alternate ideas which would possibly presumably moreover very nicely be chosen, whether on my own or as fragment of a broader approach", Huscroft said.

Nathalie Chalifour, an associate professor of law at the University of Ottawa, said the two Court of Appeal rulings show if the matter was appealed to the Supreme Court, "chances are nearly certain it will be upheld again".

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The federal act now only applies in four Conservative provinces - Ontario, Manitoba, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan - which Ottawa says don't meet national standards. Alberta is in the process of its own challenge against the law.

In a 4-1 decision, the court ruled that requiring a national price on carbon pollution fell under the federal government's peace, order and good government (POGG) power stipulated in the Canadian Constitution, rejecting assertions from the Ontario government it infringed on provincial responsibilities. They simply said Ontario had one of the best records, emissions 22% below 2005 levels, without a carbon tax and that the Paris targets could be met without a tax.

It goes on to say that Canada's Minister of Finance has estimated that climate change will cost Canada's economy $5 billion per year by 2020, and up to $43 billion per year by 2050 if no action is taken to mitigate its effects.

In all, 14 interveners - among them some provinces, Indigenous groups and environmental and business organizations - lined up to defend or attack the law, with most siding with Ottawa.

That province's top court rules on the validity of the federal carbon tax. He added "My first action as prime minister will be to scrap Justin Trudeau's carbon tax and help Canadians get ahead".

It also agreed that modifying the behaviour of Canadians was a goal of the legislation and said the charges in the act are "not required to be cost recovery mechanisms", as Ontario suggested.

Court challenges of the act are also ongoing in Manitoba and New Brunswick, while new Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has said his government will also launch a legal challenge.

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