On­tario ar­gues gas pump stick­ers help ‘fur­ther’ free ex­pres­sion

The Peterborough Examiner - - CANADA & WORLD - AL­LI­SON JONES

TORONTO — A law man­dat­ing that gas sta­tions dis­play an­ti­car­bon tax stick­ers “fur­thers the pur­poses of free­dom of ex­pres­sion,” the On­tario gov­ern­ment ar­gues as part of its de­fence to a con­sti­tu­tional case.

The Cana­dian Civil Lib­er­ties

As­so­ci­a­tion (CCLA) is chal­leng­ing the law, say­ing it vi­o­lates free speech pro­vi­sions be­cause it con­sti­tutes com­pelled po­lit­i­cal speech. The gov­ern­ment’s state­ment of de­fence, which the CCLA posted on its web­site, ar­gues that the suit should be dis­missed.

It says the CCLA doesn’t have stand­ing to bring the chal­lenge be­cause it isn’t a gas re­tailer and there­fore isn’t af­fected by the law. The gov­ern­ment also ar­gues that the law does not limit the abil­ity of gas sta­tions to ex­press any mes­sage or po­lit­i­cal speech.

“The (law) fur­thers the pur­poses of free­dom of ex­pres­sion, which in­clude seek­ing and at­tain­ing truth and par­tic­i­pat­ing in so­cial and po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sion­mak­ing, by pro­mot­ing in­formed con­sumer choice and trans­parency,” the gov­ern­ment ar­gues.

The stick­ers show the fed­eral car­bon tax adding 4.4 cents per litre to the price of gaso­line now, ris­ing to 11 cents per litre in 2022.

The stick­ers be­came manda­tory shortly be­fore the fed­eral elec­tion cam­paign be­gan in Septem­ber.

“This is a tax on ev­ery­thing, and we’re not go­ing to stand for it,” En­ergy Min­is­ter Greg Rick­ford told the leg­is­la­ture in April.

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