Federal Carbon tax constitutional says Supreme Court of Canada

Pollution from a smokestack. THE CANADIAN PRESS

Pollution from a smokestack. THE CANADIAN PRESS

Higgs says he wasn't surprised Thursday when the Supreme Court of Canada issued a 6-3 ruling that Ottawa's carbon pricing system, including its requirement that provinces follow suit, is constitutional.

NDP Environment critic Peter Tabuns says the court challenges have cost Ontario taxpayers millions of dollars.

They've lost this court case.

"They wasted money putting stickers on gas pumps to show how angry they were...but anger address the climate crisis, only real action will".

In a separate interview on Power Play on Thursday, Gerald Butts, former principal secretary to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, said the Supreme Court ruling is a political "opportunity" for the official opposition to rethink their position on the carbon pricing policy and put the fight "behind them".

The split decision prompted the government to take the case to the Supreme Court of Canada.

"Carbon pricing is one of the most effective tools that government can use to fight climate change". Alberta will need to impose a carbon pricing scheme of its own or adopt federal minimum standards.

In the Supreme Court's majority decision, Chief Justice Richard Wagner writes that addressing climate change requires collective national and worldwide action because the harmful effects of greenhouse gas emissions are not confined by borders.

Given that, said Wagner, Canada's evidence that this is a matter of national concern, is sound.

At stake was the hotly contested tax that's set to climb all the way to $170 per tonne in 2030, and which has stoked governmental outrage in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario, in particular.

"It is a threat of the highest order to the country, and indeed to the world", Wagner wrote for six of the nine judges.

"We are obviously disappointed with that decision", says Kenney.

"The undisputed existence of a threat to the future of humanity can not be ignored", he wrote.

However, the law gives the federal government in Ottawa the power to apply its own carbon tax, known as the "backstop", on those provinces that either fall short of the national standard or have not implemented their own system.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says his province will talk with its allies and consult Albertans "to protect jobs and the economy".

The premier may not like it, but Saskatchewan is going to have to submit to the carbon tax - for a while at least.

Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson called it "an historic day for Canada" and asked provincial governments to work with Ottawa as a result.

It sets minimum pricing standards for provinces to meet.

He noted the three provinces that challenged the ruling also withdrew from the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change.

"In each province, the legislature may exclusively make laws in relation to (a) exploration for non-renewable natural resources in the province; (b) development, conservation and management of non-renewable natural resources and forestry resources in the province, including laws in relation to the rate of primary production therefrom; and (c) development, conservation and management of sites and facilities in the province for the generation and production of electrical energy."

In February 2020, Alberta's Court of Appeal ruled in favour of the province, saying the legislation that brought in the tax erodes provincial jurisdiction.

"There should be no question as to whether climate change is real, or whether climate action is the right thing to do for the planet, for jobs, and as human beings", he said in a statement.

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