Supreme Court rules federal carbon tax constitutional

Pollution from a smokestack. THE CANADIAN PRESS

As Canada's top court says the federal government's carbon tax is constitutional, the decision is being met with mixed reaction from premiers, politicians, and special interest groups.

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

"We now know that we have a partner in the Supreme Court, that they recognize the seriousness, the urgency of the matter and the need for coordination and collaboration across levels of government".

Conservative leader Erin O'Toole, who is been a loud opponent to the tax, said his party would repeal the tax if they form government and introduce other measures to tackle climate change without hurting Canadians' pocketbooks.

"Quebec's cap-and-trade system, for example, has an imputed cost of about $20 a tonne versus the federal carbon tax now in effect in Alberta, which has been sustained by the decision, which will go up to $40 a tonne on April the first", Kenney explained.

"After promising not to, Justin Trudeau tripled the carbon tax, jeopardizing hundreds of thousands of jobs", O'Toole said in a statement. It sets a minimum price on carbon emissions and imposes a federal pricing system in provinces that don't meet that price with a system of their own.

In the court's Thursday decision, Chief Justice Richard Wagner wrote that because climate change is a threat that crosses provincial borders, the federal government has constitutional permission to act in matters of genuine national concern. "As a result, it passes the threshold test and warrants consideration as a possible matter of national concern".

Kenney's party campaigned on a promise to scrap the previous NDP government's carbon tax program and challenge the federal pricing scheme.

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

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

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Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said the Supreme Court's decision on carbon pricing is a "good day for Canada".

"When we have farmers that have been sequestering carbon and practicing no till, they should get credit for that, they should get paid for that and of course this federal government does't recognize that, so that's a frustration", he said.

Asked whether he would consider a made-in-Alberta carbon tax to avoid a federally-imposed one, Kenney said nothing is being ruled out.

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.

Moe called the introduction of the Carbon Tax, a "stunning betrayal" from Canada's Prime Minister, at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.

He told reporters it's likely that the provinces that took the case to court and have refused to create their own carbon prices will now follow his lead and craft their own versions.

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

He also said climate change in Canada is having a disproportionate impact on the Canadian Arctic, coastal communities and Indigenous territories.

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.

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