Ontario Court of Appeal rules carbon tax is constitutional

In April, Canada’s federal government imposed a carbon tax on provinces without a carbon pricing system, which was opposed by several provinces including Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick.

Ontario said in August 2018 it would challenge the carbon tax, calling it an unconstitutional overstepping on provincial authority.

Chief Justice George R. Strathy said the carbon tax was within Parliament’s jurisdiction to legislate in matters of “national concern,” citing the accumulation of greenhouse gas emissions as an existential threat to human civilization. He said the tax leaves ample room for provincial legislation.

The Saskatchewan provincial government took to the courts on the carbon tax in February. The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal ruled in favor of the federal government by a 3-2 decision in May, prompting an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Alberta ended its carbon tax in May, fulfilling a promise by then newly elected Premier Jason Kenney to scrap its provincial carbon tax imposed in November 2015.

The carbon tax is said to be one of the critical topics of the federal election in October, with the Conservatives calling it a “cash grab” that should be struck down, and being an issue that could swing the election to either the Conservatives or Liberals.

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change said the ruling was “good news for Canada and the ability of the federal government to tackle carbon pollution which knows no borders.”

“The court rejected the Conservatives’ latest attempt to splinter our country and stop the federal government from protecting the environment on behalf of Canadians,” she added.

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