Supreme Court re­serves judg­ment on car­bon tax

Lethbridge Herald - - Headline News | Canada & Beyond - Mia Rabson THE CANA­DIAN PRESS — OTTAWA

The Supreme Court of Canada re­served judg­ment on the na­tional car­bon tax Wed­nes­day.

Af­ter two days of hear­ings and pre­sen­ta­tions from more than two dozen in­ter­ested par­ties, the court ad­journed with­out yet de­cid­ing whether the car­bon price is con­sti­tu­tional. A de­ci­sion could take sev­eral more months. The hear­ings brought to­gether three sep­a­rate ap­peals re­lated to the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s Green­house Gas Pol­lu­tion Pric­ing Act, which sets min­i­mum stan­dards for car­bon pric­ing and im­poses a fed­eral sys­tem on prov­inces that don’t have an equiv­a­lent ver­sion of their own.

Ap­peals courts in Saskatchew­an and On­tario ruled in 2019 that the fed­eral car­bon tax leg­is­la­tion was con­sti­tu­tional, but in Fe­bru­ary of this year, the Alberta Court of Ap­peal said it was not.

Those prov­inces ar­gued the law leaks into pro­vin­cial ju­ris­dic­tion dur­ing the first day of hear­ings Tues­day, while the fed­eral gov­ern­ment and Bri­tish Columbia both de­fended the law as be­ing in the na­tional in­ter­est.

On Wed­nes­day, the court heard from

Que­bec, New Brunswick and Man­i­toba, which all ar­gued the law should be struck down. Que­bec was one of the first prov­inces to have a car­bon pric­ing scheme, with its cap-and-trade pro­gram, that started in 2013.

Nev­er­the­less, lawyer Jean-Vin­cent Lacroix told the Supreme Court Que­bec strongly feels like Ottawa should not get to de­cide if prov­inces have ac­cept­able sys­tems.

Man­i­toba and New Brunswick both had the fed­eral tax im­posed on them in 2019, but that changed for New Brunswick ear­lier this year af­ter it im­ple­mented a pro­vin­cial pro­gram. Premier Blaine Higgs said last fall he would ad­just New Brunswick’s pol­icy af­ter the fed­eral elec­tion, where a ma­jor­ity of New Brunswick vot­ers cast bal­lots for par­ties that backed a car­bon tax.

Both prov­inces ar­gued in court that they should be in con­trol of green­house gas poli­cies. Man­i­toba lawyer Michael Con­ner said the rea­son prov­inces have their own ju­ris­dic­tion is that there is not a one-size fits all pol­icy that would work, and that car­bon pric­ing will have a dif­fer­ent im­pact de­pend­ing on where it is ap­plied.

A lengthy list of en­vi­ron­men­tal ex­perts and ad­vo­cates pleaded with the court to rec­og­nize the se­ri­ous­ness of cli­mate change and the ne­ces­sity of hav­ing a na­tional re­sponse to it.

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