Court rules Ford government broke the law on cap and trade

Queen's Park Toronto ( file photo by Sue Storr)

A panel of Ontario Superior Court justices has ruled that the Ontario government broke the law by cancelling cap-and-trade without public consultations.

In a decision announced Friday, the panel of three justices ruled that the Ford government’s sidestepping of public consultation before throwing out the province’s cap-and-trade program was unlawful. However, a lawsuit filed by Greenpeace and Ecojustice on the matter was thrown out, meaning that the government will not be forced to reinstate the cap-and-trade program.

Two of the three judges ruled that the government acted in violation of the Environmental Bill of Rights, which requires the provincial government to schedule public consultations on environmental legislation at least one month before it is put into effect.

Ecojustice is a group of lawyers that represent clients in cases pertaining to the environment. In a media release published on its official website, Ecojustice weighed in on the panel’s decision.

“The majority of the court found that what Premier Ford did was illegal but decided not to grant a formal declaration to that effect,” read the release. “There’s no doubt Ecojustice’s quick work had a lasting impact. We hope this decision ensures the government follows the law in the future, as one judge in his decision suggested it should.”

Cancelling Ontario’s cap-and-trade program was a campaign promise by Ford and the Progressive Conservative Party in last year’s provincial election. The PCs claimed the program drove jobs out of Ontario and cost the taxpayers money. The government made good on its promise in October 2018.

The ruling was handed down on the day the province announced it led Canada in September job growth. Statistics Canada reported that 41,000 more Ontarians went to work last month, leading to a 0.3 percentage point decline in the jobless rate to 5.3 per cent.