In response to court challenge, Ottawa argues imposing a carbon tax is within federal jurisdiction

byGlobal Energy reporter Ottawa and Toronto

The threat of climate change is a national issue and the federal government has jurisdiction to impose a carbon price on some provinces under the “peace, order and good government” clause of Canada’s Constitution, lawyers for the Attorney-General argue in response to a Saskatchewan court challenge.

In a filing Tuesday, the government said federal action was needed to ensure that one province’s failure to act on climate change “does not adversely affect the nation as a whole,” and argued it gave ample opportunity for provinces to come up with their own plans that would be consistent with Canada’s international obligations. Saskatchewan is currently challenging the federal carbon-tax plan in its provincial court of appeal.

“GHG emissions are a matter of national concern,” the factum from the Attorney-General of Canada said. “Thus, Parliament has jurisdiction to legislate for the peace, order, and good government of Canada” under the Constitution Act of 1967.

The response came as federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and Ontario Premier Doug Ford met at Queen’s Park on Tuesday – a day after Mr. Ford played host to Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe – to rally against the federal government’s climate plan. The response was also on the same day the Saskatchewan government introduced its own climate change law.

Mr. Scheer told reporters that conservatives across the country are aligned on the issue. “It’s quite clear that more and more voices provincially are fighting this job-killing carbon tax,” he said.

The federal leader brushed off suggestions that Mr. Ford is trying to become the dominant face of Conservatives in Canada. “There’s great co-operation between provincial and federal parties when we have interests of common ground,” Mr. Scheer said.

Ontario has also challenged the federal carbon levy, and Ottawa’s response on that action will come later.

A spokesman for Mr. Moe said the Saskatchewan Ministry of Justice received the factum and its constitutional lawyers were analyzing it.


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