Federal Government Has Right To Impose Carbon Tax, Court Rules

Pablo Tucker
May 6, 2019

Environmental groups rejoiced at a Saskatchewan Court of Appeal ruling on carbon pricing that legal experts say strongly affirms the federal government's essential role in the fight against climate change.

"We disagree with the narrow ruling by the majority that the federal government has the power to ensure a provincial minimum price on carbon, and will be joining Saskatchewan in their appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada", Kenney said in a statement.

Saskatchewan was the first jurisdiction to challenge what it viewed as federal overreach into provincial affairs and similar challenges launched by Ontario and Manitoba are still before their respective appeal courts. There are still opportunities to win the case in the court challenges lead by other provinces that oppose the tax, he said, with the Supreme Court acting as the ultimate "game seven".

Ontario is part of a coalition of provinces, including Saskatchewan, Alberta, Manitoba and New Brunswick, pledged to fight the federal government's Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act.

REGINA - The federal government used a favourable court decision on its carbon tax Friday to put pressure on premiers who don't like it to stop fighting it.

"The court found that climate change is real, it is pressing, it is risky for Canada and the world", she says, "so therefore regulating greenhouse gas regulations is a matter of national concern".

McKenna called climate change an issue of national concern.

Speaking to reporters in Ottawa, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna lauded the decision as confirming the federal government's authority to impose a price on carbon and chided conservative provincial governments for failing to address climate change. "By pulling the rug out from under all of the investments in clean technology and the incentives our rebate system and small business tax cuts - by pulling the rug out from under all those initiatives Jason Kenney will, at the same time, be rolling out the red carpet for the federal Liberals to impose their plan". It argued the federal tax is unconstitutional because it's not applied evenly across the country and oversteps into provincial jurisdiction.

"There is no recognized constitutional requirement that laws enacted by Parliament must apply uniformly from coast to coast to coast", Richards wrote in the decision released Friday.

Saskatchewan NDP justice critic Nicole Sarauer said an appeal "probably makes the most sense, to get some clarity on the decision as it was made and have the highest court in our country provide that clarity is probably the logical next step". "If we can't beat them in the courts, we're going to beat them at the ballot box in (the) October (federal election)". "There is no legal justification for the federal government to have rejected Manitoba's plan while approving less effective plans from other provinces".

The province's challenge was heard at the Ontario Court of Appeal from April 15 to 18 and the court is considering its decision.

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