Ontario’s Government has filed a statement with the Federal Court of Appeal summarizing the arguments it will make challenging the constitutionality of the federal government’s Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act. The province will argue that the federal act imposes an unconstitutional tax on Ontarians because:
- Putting a price on greenhouse gas emissions is not within the power of the federal government. Provinces are capable of regulating greenhouse gas emissions themselves and there is no need to expand the scope of the federal government’s powers to allow it to impose a one-size-fits-all federal carbon price. Greenhouse gases are caused by a wide range of activity and are not the kind of single, indivisible matter that the federal government can regulate as a national concern.
- The federal act imposes unconstitutional taxes contrary to Section 53 of the Constitution Act, 1867. The act does not require the funds to be used for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, there is not a sufficient link between the charges and the stated regulatory purpose – reducing greenhouse gases – for the charges to be valid. Accordingly, the charges imposed by the Act are unconstitutional, disguised taxes.
The government has also announced that it will introduce this fall an “integrated made-in-Ontario environmental plan that will fight climate change and keep our air, land and waters clean for future generations”.
Ironically, the move comes in the same week that Ontario seeks to override an Ontario court decision quashing on constitutional grounds its own legislation to reduce Toronto city council from 47 to 25 members.
Manning Environmental Law is a Canadian law firm based in Toronto, Ontario. Our practice is focussed on environmental law, energy law and aboriginal law.
Paul Manning is a certified specialist in environmental law. He has been named as one of the World’s Leading Environmental Lawyers and one of the World’s Leading Climate Change Lawyers by Who’s Who Legal.
As always, these posts are provided only as a general guide and are not legal advice. If you do have any issue that requires legal advice please get in touch. Our contact details can be found here
The irony mentioned in the last paragraph of this post is now moot in light of the Ontario Court of Appeal’s decision yesterday staying a lower court ruling that the province’s Bill 5, which reduced Toronto council to 25 seats from 47 in the middle of the election campaign, violates freedom of expression rights for candidates and voters.
The Progressive Conservative government will likely breathe a sigh of relief as it abandons (or at least defers pending an appeal to the Supreme Court) its controversial move to expedite a reintroduced bill invoking the “notwithstanding” provision in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.