Ontario Heading To Court Over Federal Carbon Tax

(Photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / Habman18)

The Ford government has announced the next step in the fight against the federal government’s plan to impose a new carbon tax on the province; a constitutional challenge.

Ottawa had told provinces they needed to come up with their own plan to fight climate change, or the Trudeau government would impose the tax. When the Progressive Conservatives cancelled the Cap and Trade Program, the threat became imminent.

The program limited how much companies can emit greenhouse gases before financial penalties kick in.

Scrapping Cap and Trade killed a funding stream for many environmental programs at the local level including a $100-million fund for school repairs, and municipal funding for initiatives like improving cycling infrastructure.

However, the program was not popular with business leaders.

Before implementation, 20 chambers of commerce across the province urged the Wynne government to hold off on Cap and Trade arguing it would create an even greater burden on businesses struggling to pay their utility bills.

Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks Rod Phillips and Attorney General Caroline Mulroney made the announcement Thursday in Toronto that they will file the challenge with the Ontario Court of Appeal.

Ontario’s position will be that the federal Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act imposes an unconstitutional tax burden on the province’s residents.

“During the election campaign, we made a clear promise to the people of Ontario that we would use every tool at our disposal to fight the federal government’s plan,” said Phillips. “We are keeping our promise.”

The challenge is in addition to Ontario’s intervention on behalf of the Government of Saskatchewan’s court action.

“The federal carbon tax will have its day in court,” said Mulroney. “But, it is already on trial among the families who will be forced to pay more for gas, home heating, and everything else if the federal government gets its way.

“Our message to Ontario families, businesses, and workers worried about the carbon tax is this: the federal government may have abandoned you, but we never will,” she continued.

A report in the Globe and Mail suggests federal officials are working on a deal with large carbon emitters. A release from the Ford government calls it an admission the tax is a risk to jobs.

Phillips told reporters at the announcement, “Our message to the prime minister is that it is never too late to do the right thing. Cancel your carbon tax and put Canadian jobs and Canadian families first.”