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Anti carbon tax sticker law unconstitutional, Ontario court finds

027001Ontario’s government had no right to “stick it to” the federal Liberals by forcing gas stations to display anti- carbon tax stickers, a Superior Court judge said Friday as he struck down the law as unconstitutional.

Justice Edward Morgan said Premier Doug Ford and his Progressive Conservative government overstepped in mandating the stickers, saying the Federal Carbon Tax Transparency Act could not be justified under the charter.

“A government or political party can, in the words of Ontario’s Minister of Energy, ‘stick it to’ another tier of government or political party as a matter of free speech in an election campaign or otherwise. But a government cannot legislate a requirement that private retailers post a sticker designed to accomplish that task,” Morgan wrote.

“The mandatory fuel pump sticker is an unconstitutional attempt to do just that.”

Under the law, gas stations that didn’t display the stickers would initially face fines of up to $10,000 per day, though a judge later lowered the daily penalty to $150. Morgan said in his ruling that the companies can now choose to leave them up or tear them down.

The stickers show the federal carbon tax adding 4.4 cents per litre to the price of gas now, rising to 11 cents a litre in 2022. They do not include information about rebates available to residents.

Morgan said in the decision that the message was “blatantly advantage-seeking by a political party and a misuse of a governing party’s legislative power.”

He pointed to a statement Energy Minister Greg Rickford made in April 2019 in which he said the province would “stick it to the Liberals and remind the people of Ontario how much this job-killing, regressive carbon tax costs.” That, said Morgan, shows the true purpose of the sticker was partisan.

Rickford said he respects the court decision, “but our government will always stand up for the people of Ontario when it comes to matters that make everyday life more expensive for hardworking families.”

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association, which brought the challenge a year ago, is extremely pleased with the ruling, according to the director of its fundamental freedoms program.

“This was very clearly a partisan political message that the government was putting forward _ something that they’re completely entitled to do on their own, and when when they’re campaigning in their own advertising, but something that they’re not allowed to force others to do,” Cara Zwibel said. “Hopefully that’s a precedent that will carry forward and that governments will be mindful of.”

But she noted that while the CCLA won in court, the province was still able to achieve its goal. The stickers have been displayed at gas pumps across the province for well over a year.

A spokesman for the Ministry of the Attorney General declined to comment, saying the department is reviewing the decision.

“As this matter is still in the appeal period, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further,” Brian Gray said.

But the Official Opposition urged Ford and his government not to appeal.

“He has already wasted enough of people’s money on his anti-carbon price stickers that don’t stick _ a partisan and dishonest propaganda campaign,” NDP Energy and Climate Crisis Critic Peter Tabuns said in a written statement.

Ontario has challenged Ottawa’s right to impose a carbon tax, and the Supreme Court is set to hear that case in September.


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A look at carbon prices in all provinces and territories

Screen Shot 2019-12-17 at 10.45.10 AMAs of Jan. 1, every Canadian and all Canadian businesses are paying a price on carbon.

The federal Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act means provinces that do not have their own price on pollution that meets Ottawa’s standard get the federal carbon tax applied to them.

The federal tax is currently $20 a tonne and will rise $10 a year every April until it hits $50 a tonne in 2022.

For individuals and businesses with relatively small emissions, that carbon levy is applied to liquid and gaseous fuels at the point of purchase. Households receive rebates on income taxes to offset the cost. The amount varies by province to account for different uses of fossil fuels.

There is separate carbon pricing for big industrial emitters, which are charged the tax on a portion of their emissions, rather than on the fuels they purchase. This is known as the “output-based pricing system,” and the carbon price is charged on between five and 20 per cent of emissions, depending on the industry.

Some provinces have both federal systems in place, while others use one or the other. On Thursday, Manitoba decided to enact its own small-emissions tax starting July 1.

Here’s a quick look at how the national price on pollution works in every province and territory:

British Columbia

B.C. charges a provincewide carbon tax of $40 per tonne on fossil fuels, including gasoline, natural gas and diesel. The province intends to raise the tax to $45 on April 1 and to $50 on April 1, 2021.

B.C. uses revenues to invest in clean technology and environment policies, as well as to provide direct rebates to individual households with an income-based tax credit. The credit is worth up to $154.50 per adult (or for the first child in a single-parent home) and $45.50 per child. The credit is phased out as income rises. It’s eliminated completely for any family with a net income over $62,964.

Alberta

Albertans began paying the federal carbon levy Jan. 1. In February, the provincial government won a challenge of the tax when the Appeal Court found the legislation unconstitutional. The broader national fight is bound for the Supreme Court.

As it stands, the carbon rebate in Alberta will amount to $888 for a family of four in 2020. The amount represents a rebate for carbon tax paid over 15 months _ from Jan. 1, 2020, to March 31, 2021 _ because Albertans were not included in the rebate program last year.

Ottawa approved Alberta’s charge of $30 a tonne on industry emissions of more than 100,000 tonnes a year. Emitters have been asked to reduce their levels by 10 per cent in the first year, and one per cent a year after that. If they don’t hit those reductions, they pay the carbon tax on whatever they emit over their cap, or must buy credits from firms that do better than their targeted reductions.

Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan families and small businesses pay the federal carbon levy. A Saskatchewan family of four received $609 in a rebate in 2019 are to get $809 in 2020.

Saskatchewan has a large industrial carbon price that partially meets Ottawa’s requirements. The federal government charges its output-based carbon price on electricity generators and pipelines that are not subject to the provincial system.

Saskatchewan lost its court challenge of the tax. The Supreme Court is to hear the appeal in March.

Manitoba

Manitoba plans to enact a $25-per-tonne tax starting July 1.

It originally planned a $25-per-tonne levy in 2017, but withdrew it when the federal government said it was not high enough. The federal government then imposed its own tax. A family of four received $339 from the Climate Action Incentive in 2019 and is to receive $486 in 2020.

It’s not immediately clear whether the federal government will agree to Manitoba’s plan.

Manitoba is also fighting the federal levy in court, although a date for a hearing has not been set.

The province is also subject to the output-based system on any facility emitting more than 50,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases each year.

Ontario

Ontario families and small businesses pay the federal carbon levy. Ontario challenged Ottawa’s authority to impose the carbon levy in court and lost. It is also appealing to the Supreme Court.

An Ontario family of four received $307 in 2019 from the climate rebate and is to receive $448 in 2020.

The province is also subject to the output-based system on any facility emitting more than 50,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases each year.

Quebec

Quebec has had a cap-and-trade system since 2013. It sets caps on emissions by industry. Companies that cannot reduce their emissions below the cap must buy credits from a carbon market shared with California. Each jurisdiction sets a minimum price per tonne for credits, which in Quebec last year was the equivalent of $20.82 per tonne of emissions.

Individuals pay the carbon cost embedded in the price of goods.

New Brunswick

New Brunswick is subject to the federal carbon levy, but on April 1 will switch to a provincial tax that will involve introducing a price per tonne on carbon, then reducing the province’s gas tax by a similar amount to make the cost to individuals mostly neutral.

New Brunswick industry is subject to the federal output-based system, but has proposed its own version that would require big emitters to cut pollution by 10 per cent over the next decade.

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia introduced a cap-and-trade system in January 2019 that meets federal standards. It sets limits on emissions in specific industries, and companies that emit more than their limit must buy credits from companies that emit less than their limit.

Prince Edward Island

P.E.I. has a provincial carbon levy of $20 a tonne on most liquid and gaseous fuels with the exception of furnace oil and propane.

The province opted to use Ottawa’s output-based system for big emitters.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador introduced a carbon price of $20 per tonne on Jan. 1, 2019. At the same time, it reduced its provincial gas tax by about the same amount.

The province has an output-based system for big industry that sets targets for cutting emissions.

Yukon

Yukon opted to use the federal carbon levy but was allowed to collect the revenues itself. It is providing rebates of about $172 per family of four in 2019 and 2020.

The territory is paying $20 per tonne on fuels. It is exempt from paying the tax on aviation gasoline and aviation turbo fuel.

It is also using the federal output-based system for big emitters.

Northwest Territories

The N.W.T. implemented a territorial carbon tax of $20 per tonne last fall, with various rebates and offsets to aid residents, including a 100 per cent point-of-purchase rebate on home heating fuel tax, and a cost-of-living benefit of $260 per adult and $300 per child.

Nunavut

Nunavut opted to use the federal carbon levy. It is reducing the cost to individuals by covering half the levy. So instead of the cost of five gallons of gasoline going up 90 cents, it went up 45 cents. The levy applies to all fuels except aviation gasoline and aviation turbo fuel.

Nunavut is also using the federal output-based system for industrial emitters.


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Alberta Appeal Court sides with Alberta on federal carbon tax

Screen Shot 2019-12-17 at 10.44.00 AMThe Alberta Court of Appeal has ruled that the federal carbon tax is not constitutional.

In a 4-1 decision, the court says the legislation that brought in the tax erodes provincial jurisdiction.

The Alberta government had argued in its challenge of the tax that climate change isn’t a national issue requiring overriding federal intervention.

The federal government countered by saying climate change is a national and global concern that can’t be left to each of the provinces to take on alone.

The majority of the Appeal Court judges sided with the province.

“The act is a constitutional Trojan horse,” said the portion of the decision written by three of the four majority justices.

The court rejected federal arguments that reducing greenhouse gases met the legal test of being a national concern.

“Almost every aspect of the provinces’ development and management of their natural resources … would be subject to federal regulation.”

It noted health care, minimum wages and justice are all national concerns but are administered by the provinces.

The court ruled that, for something to be a national concern within federal jurisdiction, it would have to be beyond the scope of provincial powers.

Monday’s decision is the first to side with a province against the federal government.

Courts in both Saskatchewan and Ontario upheld the federal levy last year.

The Supreme Court of Canada is to hear Saskatchewan’s appeal of its court’s decision this spring.


Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister

Manitoba carbon tax a maybe, Pallister says after meeting Trudeau in Winnipeg

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister is holding out the possibility of imposing a carbon tax in his province as he tries to fashion a green plan that will meet with the federal government’s approval.

But he’s simultaneously warning that Ottawa will have to show some flexibility if it wants him to continue playing the role of bridge-builder to the other two Prairie provinces, where talk of western alienation and outright separation has escalated since Justin Trudeau’s Liberals won re-election on Oct. 21.

“The prime minister has said and numerous of his colleagues have said that they are seeking to build a stronger country. To do that, Manitoba is the bridge,” Pallister said Monday after a 30-minute meeting with Trudeau, who is in Winnipeg for a federal cabinet retreat.

“If you can’t get along with friendly Manitobans, there’s a lot of other Canadians you can’t get along with.”

Pallister’s government initially came up with a green plan that included a carbon tax that was below the national standard set by the Trudeau government. He scrapped the plan when it was rejected by Ottawa and joined his fellow conservative premiers in challenging the federal carbon-tax backstop in court.

Ottawa is imposing its tax on provinces that have refused to meet the national standard for pricing carbon emissions: Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. The national tax was initially imposed in New Brunswick as well but that province came up with its own tax after the election, which has since been approved by the feds.

Pallister said he’ll unveil a new green plan and discuss it with the federal government “in the not-too-distant future.” That dialogue, he added, “will include a carbon price of some kind.”

Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew said a carbon tax is “long past due” and Pallister should stop fighting it.

Whereas the national carbon tax is structured to escalate over time, Pallister indicated that he believes any tax should be “flat and low like the prairie horizon.”

Moreover, he said Ottawa must give Manitoba credit for steps it’s already taken to reduce carbon emissions, such as investing in clean hydroelectricity.

“We’ve put billions of dollars at risk to green up the environment and we deserve respect for that,” Pallister said.

“We deserve to be respected for our green record. We do not deserve to be called climate-change deniers by anybody … We want acceptance of our made-in-Manitoba green strategies.”

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, who has been travelling the country meeting with premiers and others in a bid to mend some of the deep divisions exposed by the election, said she and the prime minister already have “lots of respect for Manitoba.”

“I hope (Pallister) would agree that we have a very effective, friendly working relationship with him and we really appreciate that,” said Freeland, who is also the intergovernmental affairs minister. She sat in on Monday’s meeting between the two leaders.

“Manitoba occupies an important and valued geographic position in the country. It’s fair to describe Manitoba as being in the heart of the country and co-operating with the premier is really valuable to us.”

But extending that co-operation to watering down the federal carbon-pricing regime for Manitoba seems unlikely.

Federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson was not enthusiastic Monday about crediting the province for past measures to reduce emissions.

“We have to be forward-looking with climate change,” he said after making an announcement elsewhere in Winnipeg.

“At the end of the day, the challenge that we are facing is one of the emissions that exist today. We need to … have plans as to how we’re going to reduce the emissions that exist today on a go-forward basis.”

Trudeau’s tete-a-tete with Pallister came on the second day of a three-day federal cabinet retreat, being held in Winnipeg in a bid to reach out to a region that spurned Trudeau’s Liberals in the Oct. 21 election.

The election reduced the Liberals to a minority. They were entirely shut out of Alberta and Saskatchewan, where Liberal environmental and climate policies are widely blamed for gutting the energy industry.

Manitoba, where the Liberals lost three of seven seats, is somewhat friendlier turf.

Pallister has signalled his willingness to work with Ottawa, in stark contrast to the other openly hostile Prairie premiers, Alberta’s Jason Kenney and Saskatchewan’s Scott Moe.

“We pride ourselves here on being Canadian first and we have the opportunity to, I think, partner in an improved way on several major files that I think Canadians will appreciate,” Pallister said as he sat down with Trudeau.

The Trudeau government has so far gotten little credit in the other Prairie provinces for its controversial decision to purchase the Trans Mountain pipeline to ensure plans for its expansion go ahead – a decision that cost Liberals support among environmentalists and progressive voters.

But now that construction is actually underway and the Supreme Court last week cleared away another legal hurdle to the project, Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan expressed hope Sunday that tempers will cool down a bit in the West.

The expanded pipeline is to carry diluted bitumen from Alberta’s oil sands to the British Columbia coast for export overseas.


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Alberta justice minister says province will ‘fight back’ against carbon tax

Alberta is promising to continue its fight against the federal consumer carbon tax as the price of gasoline in the province is set to jump.

The federal Liberals are accompanying the tax with a rebate program.

Alberta Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer told a news conference at a Calgary truck stop on December 31 that people should gas up quickly.

“We want to make sure as well that Albertans know that even though our taxes are going up, that we’re going to do everything in our power to make sure that we fight back against this federal overreach and make sure Albertans know that we have their backs,” Schweitzer said.

The federal government says the average Alberta household will receive about $880 under the rebate program, which is about $170 more than it is expected to pay.

Schweitzer said he doesn’t believe that will be the case.

“I don’t buy that at all. Look at Albertans right now. Alberta is struggling. We need jobs in this province,” he said.

“The cost of everything is going to start going up.”

The four-cent increase represents a carbon tax of $20 per tonne of carbon dioxide, increasing to $30 in the spring.

Those who live in small or rural communities will receive a higher rebate, and fuel used for farm machinery can be exempted from the tax.

Municipalities, public institutions, small businesses and Indigenous communities are also to receive extra funding to help them lower their energy costs.

Alberta is challenging the federal tax in the province’s Court of Appeal. Arguments were heard in December and the court has yet to rule.

Ontario and Saskatchewan lost previous challenges of the tax in their top courts and are appealing to the Supreme Court of Canada. Alberta is supporting them in their legal action.

“We’re waiting to see what the Alberta Court of Appeal’s decision will have in the New Year. And we’re hoping to have that decision done before the Supreme Court case, which is going to be heard in March,” Schweitzer said.

“We’re going to keep that fight going. This is federal overreach plain and simple. This is clearly provincial jurisdiction.”

Alberta had a consumer carbon tax under the previous New Democrat government, which was rescinded by the United Conservatives in May. The government has since imposed a carbon tax of $30 a tonne on industrial emitters, which has been approved by Ottawa.

“Alberta is doing its part to tackle global emissions. Our plan invests in real technological solutions. It doesn’t punish people for driving to work and heating their homes,” Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said Tuesday on Twitter.

He said his government won’t relent in its legal fight against the consumer tax.

“We won’t roll over like the previous NDP government did. This is Alberta’s jurisdiction, and we will fight for it.”


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Carbon tax rebate amounts reduced in four provinces

Screen Shot 2019-12-17 at 10.44.00 AMThe federal government has decreased the carbon tax rebates Canadians can expect in the new year in three provinces that have not adopted carbon pricing models that meet federal requirements.

The government has also added Alberta to the mix after that province’s United Conservative party repealed the previous government’s consumer carbon tax.

The biggest drop in the rebate will be in Saskatchewan, where the federal Finance Department says a family of four will qualify for rebates totalling $809 in 2020, down from the $903 that was projected last year.

In Ontario, the rebate for a family of four has been set at $448, down from $451, while families in Manitoba will receive $486, a decrease from $499.

A family of four in Alberta will see a rebate of $888 in 2020.

The rebates are meant to offset the added consumer costs resulting from Ottawa’s carbon tax of $20 per tonne of carbon emitted into the atmosphere for 2020, rising to $30 per tonne in 2021.

The Trudeau government has maintained that most households will receive more money back through the rebates than they pay in carbontaxes on things such as gasoline and home-heating fuels.

The carbon tax scheme was introduced earlier this year as a way to encourage Canadians to use less carbon-based products, thereby reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.

Here are the rebate amounts for individuals and families, by province, in 2020, according to a government statement:

Ontario:

Single adult or first adult in a couple – $224

Second adult in a couple or first child of a single parent – $112

Each child under 18 – $56

Baseline amount for a family of four – $448

Manitoba:

Single adult or first adult in a couple – $243

Second adult in a couple or first child of a single parent – $121

Each child under 18 – $61

Baseline amount for a family of four – $486

Saskatchewan:

Single adult or first adult in a couple – $405

Second adult in a couple or first child of a single parent – $202

Each child under 18 – $101

Baseline amount for a family of four – $809

Alberta:

Single adult or first adult in a couple – $444

Second adult in a couple or first child of a single parent – $222

Each child under 18 – $111

Baseline amount for a family of four – $888


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‘You can call anything a national concern:’ Alberta questions federal carbon tax

Allowing Ottawa’s carbon tax law to stand would give the federal government a tool it could use to repeatedly chip away at provincial powers, lawyers for the Alberta government argued Monday.

“If you uphold this legislation, you’re opening the door to exactly that type of thing,” Peter Gall told a panel of five Alberta Court of Appeal judges.

The federal government justifies the law under a section of the Constitution that allows Ottawa to step in over issues of “national concern.”

Gall argued such issues are rare. Greenhouse gases don’t meet the test, he said, and letting the carbon tax law stand would open the door to allowing Parliament to step in whenever it wanted.

“You can call anything a national concern,” he told court.

The Constitution gives provinces adequate power to regulate greenhouse gases and Ottawa’s legislation simply ties their hands, Gall said.

“It’s invasive in terms of taking away policy options that would otherwise be open to the provinces.”

Alberta is the latest province to challenge the tax. Ontario and Saskatchewan lost cases in their top courts, but are appealing to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The attorneys-general of Ontario, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and British Columbia are also to speak during the three-day hearing in Edmonton. Eight First Nations, non-governmental groups and Crown corporations have also been granted intervener status.

Ottawa argues that authorization for the tax comes under the Constitution’s peace, order and good government clause. Establishing minimum national standards on greenhouse gas emissions “is a matter of national concern that only Parliament can address.”

University of Alberta law professor Eric Adams said using the nation concern argument to justify the law is a bit of a leap.

“The federal government made a gamble here that this was a case that was worth opening up that previously neglected box,” Adams said. “They’ve taken a bit of a risk here.”

He said he believes Alberta is unlikely to win. But if there’s a dissenting judge, that could bolster the government’s argument before the Supreme Court, which has already scheduled a January date for the Ontario and Saskatchewan appeals.

“If they don’t win, they hope for a judgment from some judges that lends weight and credibility, and maybe a new perspective to add to the dissenting opinions that have already been rendered in Saskatchewan and Ontario,” said Adams.

Three out of five Saskatchewan appellate judges agreed with Ottawa, as did four out of five of their Ontario colleagues. Past judgments have recognized the environment as a matter of shared jurisdiction.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney ditched a consumer carbon tax that the previous NDP government had brought in soon after his United Conservatives won the provincial election in April.

He has established a $30-a-tonne carbon tax on industrial emitters, replacing somewhat stronger measures introduced by the former NDP government. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals have approved that tax.

The consumer carbon tax is to begin in Alberta starting Jan. 1.

Alberta Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer said in a statement Monday that Ottawa doesn’t always know best.

“Even if you support a carbon tax, it doesn’t mean that the federal government’s carbon tax is the best or only approach for every province,” he said.

“Each province is unique, with different economies, different demographics, and different geographies. That is why our federation is structured to give provinces the right to make our own laws and regulations over businesses when it comes to issues like reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

 


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Feds approve Alberta’s carbon tax on big industrial emitters

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The federal government is giving the Alberta government a passing grade for its industrial carbon tax.

Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson says his department agrees Alberta’s planned $30-a-tonne carbon price on emissions from big industry meets federal requirements.

However the climate battles between Ottawa and Edmonton will continue because on Jan. 1 the federal government will still start applying its carbon tax on the purchase in Alberta of fuels like gasoline, natural gas, and propane.

Alberta used to have a consumer carbon tax on fuel but Premier Jason Kenney and the newly elected United Conservative Party cancelled it earlier this year.

A fuel surcharge and a carbon tax for big industry are the two components of the national carbon pricing system applied in any province without similar systems of their own.

Since April, Ottawa has applied the fuel surcharge in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick but Saskatchewan was exempted from most of the big-industry element because it has a version that Ottawa deemed strong enough.


Feds go around Manitoba government to get carbon tax funds to schools

Ottawa is going around the Manitoba government in order to give $5.4 million in carbon tax revenues to the province’s schools in the latest carbon-tax battle between the federal Liberals and a provincial Conservative government.

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister last month refused to play ball and help the federal government distribute carbon tax revenues so schools in his province could make energy efficient upgrades.

Manitoba’s share is from $60 million available this year for schools in the four provinces affected by the federal carbon price – Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick.

Although all four governments are opposing the tax in court, only Manitoba wouldn’t agree to work with the federal Liberals to distribute the funds to local school boards.

Ottawa expects to raise about $2.3 billion this year from the $20 levy it is applying to fuels for every tonne of greenhouse gas emissions they produce when burned. Ninety per cent is being returned to individual households through income tax rebates, but some was set aside to help small businesses, schools, universities, hospitals, municipalities and Indigenous communities.

Alan Campbell, president of the Manitoba School Boards Association, said he felt the need to step in after federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said the funds for Manitoba schools would be instead go to municipal governments, hospitals and universities.

He said school boards have higher costs because of the carbon tax, including for heating school buildings – some of which are a century old – and running bus fleets. He said board trustees have to do what they can to avoid raising school taxes to cover those additional costs.

“This opportunity for us to take some of the revenue that’s been generated through that tax and reinvest it into the schools that are owned by the communities that we represent is important,” he said.

Campbell acknowledged there were some concerns raised about wading into the political hostilities around the carbon tax because the association and school boards are not partisan. But he said in the end it was more important to not let Manitoba schools miss out on funds that can help them reduce carbon tax costs by investing in things like better windows and more efficient furnaces.

In a statement last week, McKenna said the goal was only to help schools.

“We were disappointed that, in Manitoba, the option proposed for schools to get their share of the revenues from our climate plan could not proceed as originally planned,” she said. “But where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

The school boards association contacted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on July 24th. Campbell said once talks began, “it was hours and days” before the agreement was developed.

Pallister said Wednesday he didn’t “oppose” the money for schools, but rather that it would be “unprincipled” for the government to take money from carbon tax revenues since Manitoba doesn’t agree with the measure.

“I said that Manitoba is not going to be part of a mirage,” he said.

Manitoba is one of three provinces with a court challenge against the federal government’s decision to impose a carbon price on provinces that didn’t have their own, equivalent carbon pricing system. Courts in Saskatchewan and Ontario have rejected provincial arguments in separate decisions this spring, and both rulings are being appealed.

Manitoba was going to impose its own carbon tax initially, but Pallister suddenly scrapped that plan last October.

The school boards association will receive the funds through an agreement with Ottawa, and then distribute them, likely on a per student basis, to school boards who can show they will use them for the intended purpose.

 

 


Saskatchewan wants Supreme Court to push back carbon tax appeal

The Saskatchewan government is applying to have its Supreme Court hearing on the constitutionality of the federal carbon tax pushed back.

An email from the Ministry of Justice says a delay would help Saskatchewan co-ordinate its legal challenge with similar ones coming from other provinces.

The top court was tentatively set to hear the case Dec. 5.

The province says its lawyers were supposed to submit a factum for the appeal by the end of this month, but they have not done so.

Justice Minister Don Morgan hosted a meeting Tuesday in Saskatoon with justice ministers and their legal teams from Ontario, New Brunswick and Alberta.

He believes the Supreme Court will want to hear all of the various legal arguments or cases at once instead of one at a time because of their similarity.

During the meeting the group discussed ways to strategize their legal arguments against Ottawa’s carbon levy.

The federal carbon tax was applied to Saskatchewan, Ontario, New Brunswick and Manitoba when those provinces did not have of their own.

Ontario lost a challenge in its top court last month.

Alberta, which killed its provincial carbon tax earlier this year that was brought in by the previous NDP government, is to have the federal levy imposed in January. It has also filed a legal challenge.

Alberta Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer says his government is trying to catch up with Saskatchewan and Ontario, and it was important for the ministers to compare notes.

He wants the provinces to work together so that the matter is heard by the Supreme Court in a “co-ordinated and thoughtful way.”

“We’re trying to work out (the) strategy to make sure each province can bring forward its strongest case to the Supreme Court,” he says.

Ontario Attorney General Doug Downey says his government has until August to file its notice of appeal to the Supreme Court.

There are pros and cons about presenting the cases together, he says, but wouldn’t comment on his government’s preference or strategy.

Morgan says he believes Saskatchewan’s court fight is costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars, but that it’s worth it.

He says it’s difficult to calculate the exact amount since the province is relying on a mix of in-house and outside lawyers. The price tag includes court filings, travel expenses and other out-of-pocket costs.

“The importance of trying to determine federal and provincial – where the lines are – is important enough that we’re more than willing to spend the money to try and get clear resolution and clear answers to where we need to be,” he says.