Ontario argues gas pump stickers help ‘further’ free expression
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.