VICTORY! – Ford’s Bid to Kill Fed’s “Tax” on Carbon Pollution Shot Down by Ontario’s Top Court

Our Planet and Our Children’s Future Finally Gets a Win against Ford Government’s War on our Environment

“Parliament has determined that atmospheric accumulation of greenhouse gases causes climate changes that pose an existential threat to human civilization and the global ecosystem. … The need for a collective approach to a matter of national concern, and the risk of non-participation by one or more provinces permits Canada to adopt minimum national standards to reduce (greenhouse gas) emissions.”                                                                                                     – Chief Justice George Strathy on behalf of the Ontario Court of Appeal

“Today’s (June 28th) decision from the Ontario Court of Appeal again shows that all levels of government can and must act decisively to enact strong, enforceable laws to fight climate change.”                                                                                                               – a statement from the Canadian citizens group, Environmental Defence

“The courts are aligning with Parliament, Canadian municipalities and the public in confirming that national action is needed to tackle this climate emergency. There’s growing recognition throughout the country that Canada’s climate emergency must be met with national measures in line with the urgency and challenge of meeting our climate commitments.”       – David Suzuki Foundation science and policy director Ian Bruce

A News Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper

Posted June 28th, 2019 on Niagara At Large

Finally, we have a win for our plant and our children’s future in an Ontario where Doug Ford and his Tories have done more to cut and gut environmental protection programs in its first 12 months than any other Ontario government has in 49 years since the first Earth Day.

This June 28th, Ontario’s top court – the Ontario Court of Appeal – ruled against the Ford climate deniers’ efforts stop Canada’s federal government from imposing a price on carbon pollution at the gas pumps – what Ford choses to demonize as a “carbon tax” – as one of a number of actions aimed at addressing a global climate emergency.

“The need for a collective approach to a matter of national concern, and the risk of non-participation by one or more provinces, permits Canada to adopt minimum national standards to reduce (greenhouse gas) emissions,” wrote Chief Justice George Strathy in a June 28th statement circulated on behalf of the Ontario Court of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal essentially ruled today that the Trudeau government has a constitutional right to place about 4.5 cents per litre on a gasoline.

Ford has reportedly spent or is still in the process of spending about $30 million of our (Ontario citizen’s) tax money fighting what he calls this “carbon tax” in the courts and his government’s plans to force operators of gas stations across the province to post anti-carbon tax propaganda stickers on their pumps or face stiff fines.

That is more money than Ford and his party of climate laggards are claiming to save by gutting province-wide programs for flood management and planting trees.

An example of the sticker Ford’s Tories want to force private businesses running gas stations to put on their pumps under the threat of a stiff fine. So much for Ford’s promise to get government off the backs of businesses and so much for honesty. This sticker says nothing about the much higher costs of doing little or nothing to address the climate crisis.

The Ford government’s order to  private sector gas stations to post the stickers on their pumps is expected to take affect just weeks before Ontarians go to the polls to vote in this October ‘s federal election. Critics say the real reason for the sticker is to help federal Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, one of Ford’s political allies and another climate laggard, beat Justin Trudeau’s Liberals in the election.

In a response to this June 28th’s Court of Appeal decision, Environmental Defence, one of Canada’s largest environmental groups, put out a statement saying, in part; “Premier Ford has systematically destroyed Ontario’s programs to reduce carbon pollution, and has no viable plan to act on climate change despite what the government claims. While Ontario’s government is wasting time and money fighting a viable climate solution in court, its citizens are fighting to contain fires and floods in an escalating climate crisis.”

By the way, shame on all of the people out there, and they are mostly older people (aging baby boomers), who care more about paying 4.5 cents less a litre for gasoline than they do about their children’s and grandchildren’s, or their friends and neighbours children’s and grandchildren’s future.

Many of these people cry about the cost of gasoline and give little or no consideration to the much higher costs of the damage and destruction that record flooding, drought, wind storms and other catastrophic climate events.

They would rather have Doug Ford and cheaper gas for their oversized trucks and cars. What a legacy to leave future generations.

This was an add Ford supporters produced, highlighting his determination to go to war against any attempt to put a price on carbon pollution.

Here is the full test of the statement that Environmental Defence posted this June 28th 

Appeal Ruling in Favour of the Federal Government in the Carbon Pricing Reference Case

Ontario’s Doug Ford and his political friend, Alberta Premier and tar sands champion Jason Kenney, have held rallies against what they like to call a “carbon tax” to scare people off of supporting putting a price on carbon to fuel a shift to more carbon free sources of energy. Both premiers have received strong support from a man who wants to be Canada’s next prime minister, federal Tory leader Andrew Scheer.

Toronto, Ont. – Today’s (June 28th) decision from the Ontario Court of Appeal again shows that all levels of government can and must act decisively to enact strong, enforceable laws to fight climate change. Two separate provincial courts have now upheld the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act and the federal government’s power to act on climate change when provinces refuse to do their fair share.

Climate change is a crisis requiring an unprecedented response. Canada is warming twice as quickly as the rest of the world. The court found that there is “uncontested evidence” that climate change is leading to more wildfires, floods, extinctions, and new diseases on a scale we’ve never seen before. The court also found that climate change “has had a particularly serious impact on some Indigenous communities in Canada.”

Thankfully the courts have again ruled that the federal government has the authority to respond to this crisis with strong, national action.

As the court confirmed, carbon pollution can’t be contained within borders. So if one province fails to act, everyone suffers. This is why the carbon pricing backstop is needed in Ontario now more than ever.

Premier Ford has systematically destroyed Ontario’s programs to reduce carbon pollution, and has no viable plan to act on climate change despite what the government claims. While Ontario’s government is wasting time and money fighting a viable climate solution in court, its citizens are fighting to contain fires and floods in an escalating climate crisis.

Background Information:

  • The Ontario Court of Appeal is the highest court in Ontario. Environmental Defence was an intervener in the hearing.
  • Two separate provincial courts have now upheld the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act- Saskatchewan and Ontario.
  • The court upheld the law under the Peace, Order and Good Government powers. Specifically the ruling says that “the need for a collective approach to a matter of national concern, and the risk of non-participation by one or more provinces permits Canada to adopt minimum national standards to reduce GHG emissions.

Other notable points from today’s ruling:

  • “Both nationally and globally, the economic and human costs of climate change are considerable. Canada’s Minister of Finance has estimated that climate change will cost Canada’s economy $5 billion per year by 2020, and up to $43 billion per year by 2050 if no action is taken to mitigate its effects. The World Health Organization has estimated that climate change is currently causing the deaths of 150,000 people worldwide each year. Rising sea levels threaten the safety and lives of tens of millions of people in vulnerable regions.”
  • “Moreover, as a practical matter and indeed as a legislative matter, there is nothing these [low emitting] provinces and territories can do to address the emission of GHGs by their geographic neighbours and constitutional partners. Without a collective national response, all they can do is prepare for the worst.”
  • “Of course, the problem of climate change caused by GHG emissions is not unique to these provinces and territories. The entire country experiences the effects of climate change and every province and territory is affected by the failure.”

About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (www.environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence is a leading Canadian advocacy organization that works with government, industry and individuals to defend clean water, a safe climate and healthy communities.

Environmental Defence Canada – https://environmentaldefence.ca/2019/06/28/statement-clean-economy-program-manager-sarah-buchanan-ontario-court-appeal-ruling-favour-federal-government-carbon-pricing-reference-case/ .

Here is another statement on this key court ruling from the David Suzuki Foundation

Second court rules Canada has power to tackle national climate emergency

VANCOUVER — The Ontario Court of Appeal today joined the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal in ruling that the federal government has the authority to respond to Canada’s national climate emergency.

Today’s ruling was the second decision by courts to uphold the federal government’s ability to take national action on climate change, including setting a minimum price on carbon pollution.

“The courts are aligning with Parliament, Canadian municipalities and the public in confirming that national action is needed to tackle this climate emergency,” said David Suzuki Foundation science and policy director Ian Bruce. “There’s growing recognition throughout the country that Canada’s climate emergency must be met with national measures in line with the urgency and challenge of meeting our climate commitments.”

Ecojustice represented the Foundation in the reference case, which asked the court to weigh in on whether the federal government’s Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act was constitutional. The Foundation, through our lawyers, was the only group to argue that the law could also be supported under Parliament’s power to deal with a national emergency.

“Canadians throughout the country are experiencing the increasing severity of wildfires, floods, heat waves and melting,” Bruce said. “Human-caused climate change is threatening Canada’s livability and increasing risks to health and the economy. From the courts to city halls to the streets, the message is clear: Concerted action at a national level is a key part of Canada’s climate response.”

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