Toronto

Ontario appeals federal carbon tax decision to Supreme Court of Canada

The Ontario government has filed an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada to re-examine a ruling by the province's top court that found the federal price on carbon is constitutionally sound.

Filing follows loss in Ontario Court of Appeal in June, when judges ruled plan is valid

The appeal filing to Canada's top court by Premier Doug Ford's PC government comes after a loss in the Ontario Court of Appeal in June, when judges ruled the federal carbon plan is constitutionally sound. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

The Ontario government has filed an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada to re-examine a ruling by the province's top court that found the federal price on carbon is constitutionally sound.

In a statement released Wednesday, Ontario Environment Minister Jeff Yurek said the Ford government remains committed to "using every tool at our disposal" to fight against the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, enacted by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal government in April.

"We have seen the very real costs on the people of Ontario," Yurek said. 

In June, the province under Premier Doug Ford lost its case before the Court of Appeal.

Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Ontario and New Brunswick — all led by Conservative governments — have refused federal Liberal demands to enact their own carbon levies. That prompted Ottawa to impose its own tax in those provinces, which started April 1 at $20 per tonne and will rise to $50 per tonne by 2022.

Alberta's governing United Conservative Party is also vowing a legal battle on an impending federal tax for that province. One of the UCP's first moves after winning the April election was to cancel the provincial carbon tax implemented by the previous NDP government, causing Ottawa to announce a federal levy will now kick in there on Jan. 1.

Only last Friday, Ford said the fate of the court challenge would be decided after the federal election.

"We'll sit down and consult with the attorney general …. We'll be consulting with the cabinet, and then we'll move forward from there," he said then, when when asked what he would do if federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer loses the election and a pro-carbon tax party — such as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberals — wins.

Ford's response had raised the possibility that his government could end up abandoning the case. 

Finance Minister Bill Morneau accuses Premier Doug Ford of wasting the hard earned money of Ontarians on a lawsuit to prevent meaningful action on the environment. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau's office, in response to news of the appeal, said that like Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, "Ford has no plan for the environment beyond stickers on gas pumps and now a costly and unnecessary Supreme Court challenge.

"Not content with the pain he has caused Ontarians through his deep cuts, now he is wasting their hard-earned money on a lawsuit to prevent meaningful action on the environment," spokesperson Pierre-Olivier Herbert wrote.

"We have a climate plan that makes economic sense — putting a price on pollution while putting more money in the pockets of Ontarians. The plans of Doug Ford and Andrew Scheer are not serious, but we do know for certain that they will cost Ontarians more and do less for the environment." 

Morneau's office said this isn't the course Ontarians want their government to take, "but we will defend our plan because it is the right thing to do now and for our future."

If the Ford government can't lead on climate change, then they should at least get out of the way.- Keith Stewart, Greenpeace Canada

Greenpeace Canada, which previously called on Ford to drop the case, on Wednesday said it's a waste of millions of dollars of tax-payer money.

"If the Ford government can't lead on climate change, then they should at least get out of the way," said the group's senior energy strategist, Keith Stewart. 

"At a moment when the Amazon and the Arctic are literally on fire, it makes no sense to waste millions of Ontario tax dollars trying to make the climate crisis worse." 

With files from Meagan Fitzpatrick and The Canadian Press

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