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Ontario gas stations must have anti carbon tax stickers posted

Screen Shot 2019-09-03 at 10.43.46 AMA law requiring gas station owners across Ontario to post anti-carbon tax stickers on their pumps came into force Friday, but the province said it won’t be issuing fines right away for those who don’t comply.

A spokeswoman for Energy Minister Greg Rickford said inspectors who will be checking for the mandatory blue decals won’t create a burden for businesses.

“For the first few months, inspectors are focusing on education and helping gasoline retailers come into compliance,” Sydney Stonier said in a statement. “After this initial period, inspectors could issue warnings and lay charges as they deem necessary.”

The law brought in by the Progressive Conservative government – which has been waging a legal and public relations battle against the carbon tax since taking power last summer – lays out a series of penalties that can be issued against those who fail to display the stickers.

Individuals could be fined up to $500 each day, or up to $1,000 a day for subsequent offences. Corporations could be fined up to $5,000 a day, or up to $10,000 a day for subsequent offences.

Premier Doug Ford has said the stickers are part of an effort to educate people about the costs of the carbon tax, but critics have called them misleading, taxpayer-funded propaganda ahead of the Oct. 21 federal election.

Last week, Ford said that gas station owners who don’t put the stickers on their pumps will face fines but stressed that they would be less than the maximum penalty of $10,000 a day.

The government has earmarked $30 million for its fight against the carbon tax, which includes the legal case it is taking to the country’s top court and the sticker campaign.

A spokeswoman for federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said Ford’s government was spreading misinformation about the Liberal carbon pricing scheme.

“Premier Ford is wasting taxpayers’ dollars misleading Ontarians about our plan,” Sabrina Kim said in a statement.

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.

The carbon tax is expected to cost a typical household $258 this year and $648 by 2022. Residents of provinces with the tax will be getting rebates on their income tax returns that start at $128 annually and increase for people with spouses or dependents at home.

At one gas station in downtown Toronto, the decals were receiving mixed reviews from some drivers.

Taxi driver Veron Cascart said the Tory government is playing politics with the carbon tax.

“You know the environment, we have to do something about it,” he said. “So I don’t mind paying a little extra when it’s helping the environment.”

But Rachel Comiskey said she supports the Ford government’s opposition to the carbon tax. The 26-year-old said she does a lot of driving for work but the per-kilometre allowance provided by her employer isn’t increasing, even if the cost of fuel is.

“Having the carbon tax push-back is beneficial to us,” she said.

NDP energy and climate change critic Peter Tabuns said the government should abandon the mandatory stickers.

“Ford is forcing small businesses, and some big businesses, to carry propaganda,” he said. “This is propaganda that’s undermining climate action and that’s dishonest.”

Greenpeace Canada called the stickers “misleading” partisan ads.

“It looks like a Conservative campaign sign,” said the group’s senior energy strategist, Keith Stewart. “We have the government spending our money to print the stickers that companies have to post or face massive fines.”

Green party Leader Mike Schreiner has launched his own free stickers that outline the costs of not taking action to address climate change and said Ford was making the wrong move.

“The premier should stop wasting tax dollars sabotaging climate solutions and forcing businesses to display his political propaganda,” Schreiner said.

The Tory plan has also drawn criticism from Ontario’s Chamber of Commerce, who in April said the stickers violates the rights and freedoms of gas station operators. The sticker plan has also drawn the threat of a legal challenge from the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

While the Ontario government is mailing out stickers, some retailers still have not yet received theirs. Stickers can be ordered through Publications Ontario or by calling 1-800-668-9938. However, the website shows that as of Monday, stickers were out of stock.

The Ontario Convenience Stores Association shares these tips for displaying the sticker:

  1. Gasoline retailers must display one sticker, English or French, on the front of each gasoline pump facing consumers.
  2. Retailers are expected to display an equal number of English and French stickers across all of a facility’s gasoline pumps.
  3. Stickers must be displayed in a prominent location on the top two-thirds of each gasoline pump, in a straight, upright position and not be obscured from view.
  4. Stickers are not required on diesel-only pumps.
  5. If a sticker is damaged or falls off, a replacement sticker must be ordered and attached to the gasoline pump, as soon as possible.

It’s worth noting that retailers on federally designated First Nations’ reserves or land are not required to display the stickers.

-with files from Michelle Warren


Supreme Court rejects Saskatchewan’s request to delay carbon tax appeal

Saskatchewan says the Supreme Court of Canada has denied the province’s request to delay its appeal hearing over the carbon tax.

The province says the Supreme Court recently issued an order stating the hearing remain tentatively set for Jan.14.

The government had asked for more time and expected a delay could mean a hearing next spring.

It argued a delay would allow for better co-ordination of challenges coming from other provinces such as Ontario.

Ottawa opposed a delay and suggested the hearing should take place in a timely manner to provide certainty for households and businesses

A statement from Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Justice notes the hearing date is only tentative.

It says the province will have to see what impact on scheduling Ontario’s appeal to the Supreme Court may have. That province wants the high court to re-examine an Ontario Appeal Court decision in June that said the federal carbon tax is constitutional.

Before any appeal hearing, Canadians will vote in October’s federal election. Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer is campaigning on a promise to scrap the carbon tax if his party is elected and he becomes prime minister.

A spokeswoman for federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says politicians should stop wasting taxpayer dollars to fight climate action in court.

“A price on pollution is one of the most effective and affordable tools that we have to tackle climate change, and one that will leave the vast majority of families better off,” press secretary Sabrina Kim said in an emailed statement last week.


Ontario takes legal fight over federal carbon tax to Supreme Court

Ontario is taking its fight against the federal carbon tax to the country’s top court.

Environment Minister Jeff Yurek says the province is asking the Supreme Court of Canada to overturn a decision from Ontario’s Court of Appeal that found the carbon pricing scheme is constitutionally sound.

The Progressive Conservatives say the carbon charge is an illegal tax and a violation of the Constitution because it allows the federal government to intrude on provincial jurisdiction.

Ontario’s top court ruled in a split decision in June that the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, enacted in April, is within Parliament’s jurisdiction to legislate in relation to matters of “national concern.”

The filing to the Supreme Court comes after Ontario Premier Doug Ford said last week that the fate of the province’s carbon tax court challenge would be decided after the federal election.

Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba are all in the midst of legal challenges against the carbon price.

 


Ford to decide on carbon tax court challenge after federal election

Doug Ford says the fate of Ontario’s carbon tax court challenge will be decided after the federal election, raising the possibility that his government could end up abandoning the legal action.

When asked Friday what he would do if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals are re-elected on Oct. 21, the premier said he would have to re-assess Ontario’s position.

“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

Federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has said he would scrap the national carbon tax if his party forms government.

Voters, Ford said, would have the ultimate say.

“This carbon tax, it’s not going to be the courts that are going to decide. The people are going to decide when the election is held,” he said. “Once the people decide, I believe in democracy, I respect democracy, we move on.”

The Progressive Conservative government lost its case against the federal carbon price at the province’s top court in June and said it would appeal to the Supreme Court.

Ford’s spokeswoman Ivana Yelich said Friday that the government believes the carbon tax is a “cash grab under the guise of environmental policy” and will do everything it can to fight it.

Other provinces, including Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba, are also challenging the carbon price in court.

A spokesman for Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said Friday that the province’s legal action will continue, regardless of the outcome of the election.

“Our government believes that the federal election provides a significant opportunity for voters in Saskatchewan and across Canada to soundly reject the harmful and ineffective federal carbon tax,” Jim Billington said in a statement.

“However, we recognize that an important question of jurisdictional authority will continue to exist no matter which federal party is elected come October.”

Green party Leader Mike Schreiner said the Ford government’s lawsuit has always been “political theatre.”

“What’s really causing the premier to consider backing down is people’s overwhelming desire for climate leadership,” he said in a statement. “No one wants a premier who will waste tax dollars sabotaging solutions when the local and global impacts of climate change are becoming more and more dire.”

Greenpeace Canada said Ford should drop the case immediately.

“If Premier Ford wants to stop wasting our tax money on efforts to stop other governments from filling the hole he has created in Canada’s response to the climate crisis, then he should cut his losses and do it now,” said the group’s senior energy strategist, Keith Stewart.

The Ontario government has pledged to spend approximately $30 million fighting the federal carbon price in court.

It’s also using some of those funds to wage a public relations battle against the federal Liberal government that includes making gas station owners stick anti-carbon tax stickers on pumps across the province by the end of next week.

Ford said Friday that gas station owners who don’t put the stickers on their pumps will face fines but stressed that they would be less than the maximum penalty of $10,000 a day.

The law lets the Tory government send inspectors to see if gas stations are properly displaying the stickers and sets out penalties for non-compliance.

Individuals could be fined up to $500 each day, or up to $1,000 a day for subsequent offences. Corporations could be fined up to $5,000 a day, or up to $10,000 a day for subsequent offences.

“We will enforce them if these gas stations are not putting them up and it’s not going to be $10,000, it’s going to be less than $500,” Ford said.

The blue 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.

The sticker plan has drawn condemnation from the opposition parties, business groups and the threat of a legal challenge from the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

 


Pump sticker violators will be fined but won’t face max penalty: Ford

Screen Shot 2019-08-23 at 1.11.23 PMPremier Doug Ford says gas station owners who don’t put his government’s anti- carbon tax stickers on their pumps will be fined but won’t be handed the maximum penalty available.

Ford says his government will enforce a law passed earlier this year that makes the stickers mandatory, but the fines will be less than $500, not the $10,000 maximum.

The law lets the government send inspectors to see if gas stations are properly displaying the stickers and sets out penalties for non-compliance.

Individuals could be fined up to $500 each day, or up to $1,000 a day for subsequent offences. Corporations could be fined up to $5,000 a day, or up to $10,000 a day for subsequent offences.

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.

Stations have to have the stickers in place by August 30th.


Ottawa’s carbon pricing law valid, Ontario’s top court rules

Screen Shot 2019-06-28 at 11.18.48 AMOntario’s top court has ruled the federal government’s carbon charge is constitutionally sound.

In a split decision, the five-judge panel rejected a challenge from Premier Doug Ford’s government to the validity of the carbon-pricing law.

Ottawa maintains it had to act to deal with the urgent threat of climate change as an issue of national concern.

The federal government said its approach-imposing a levy on gasoline and fossil fuels-respected provincial jurisdiction.

Ontario and three other provinces argued the Liberal government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau overstepped its authority in imposing the charge.

Last month in a split decision, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal sided with Ottawa in a similar challenge.

The Doug Ford government challenged the constitutionality of the carbon-pricing law before a five-judge panel in April.

It argued the Liberal government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau overstepped its authority in imposing the charge.

 

The federal government maintains the levy in Ontario (currently four cents a litre on gasoline) is a regulatory charge designed to change behaviour in favour of lower greenhouse gas emissions. Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government called the charge an illegal tax—another violation of the Constitution.

During four days of submissions, Ontario insisted the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act would undermine co-operative federalism by allowing Ottawa to overstep the dividing line between federal and provincial spheres of authority.

Provincial lawyers told the Court of Appeal the federal government would end up with the power to regulate almost every facet of life, such as when you can drive, where you can live, or whether you can have a wood-burning fireplace. They also argued the province has its own approach to the climate-change issue.

For their part, federal lawyers argued the province was fearmongering. The law, they said, would not result in an expansion of constitutional powers that would give Ottawa carte blanche to regulate issues that fall squarely within provincial jurisdiction.

The act, which took effect April 1, was a legitimate response to potentially catastrophic climate change, federal lawyers argued.

The act currently only applies in four provinces—Ontario, Manitoba, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan—which Ottawa says don’t meet national standards.

In all, 14 interveners—among them some provinces, Indigenous groups and environmental and business organizations—lined up to defend or attack the federal law, with most siding with Ottawa. Indigenous groups, for example, stressed their vulnerability to global warming that they said could destroy their way of life.

Some observers said the Ontario challenge was more about politics than the environment.

The issue is expected to be ultimately decided before the country’s top court. The Supreme Court of Canada has already said it hear Saskatchewan’s challenge in December, after the October federal election.


$60 million from federal carbon tax to go to green projects in schools

The federal government is spending a portion of the proceeds of the carbon tax to fund green projects at schools in four provinces.

The funding totals $60 million and will go to elementary and secondary schools in New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says in Ottawa.

Those four provinces are subject to the national carbon price because they do not have their own carbon-pricing systems that meet federal standards.

The Liberals previously announced 90% of the revenue from the carbon tax is going back to individuals through rebates on their income taxes.

Ten per cent will go to schools, hospitals, small businesses and other institutions to help develop green projects.

The schools are supposed to use the money for projects that reduce energy-related costs and greenhouse-gas emissions.


New Manitoba plan contains no carbon tax, higher carbon emissions level

The Manitoba government is watering down its target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and removing any possible carbon tax from the equation.

Sustainable Development Minister Rochelle Squires announced Monday that the Progressive Conservative government is aiming to reduce annual emissions by one megatonne of carbon dioxide equivalent between 2018 and 2022.

That’s less than half the almost 2 1/2-megatonne reduction target the Tories originally announced in 2017.

The main reason for the change is that the province is no longer assuming a carbon tax will be around.

“We’ve removed the carbon-pricing element from our plan and are moving forward with getting real emissions reductions,” Squires told The Canadian Press on Monday.

“(There are) several more initiatives to come that will help us transition to a low-carbon future without imposing a tax on Manitobans.”

Opposition NDP Leader Wab Kinew said the government is moving in the wrong direction.

“Reducing the emissions targets will not protect the environment in the way that we need to for the next generation,” Kinew said.

“And it seems like the government, in this announcement, is also agreeing that putting a price on pollution is an effective way to reduce emissions.”

The Tory government proposed a flat $25 per tonne carbon tax in its 2017 plan _ an increase that works out to just over five cents a litre on gasoline.

The federal government said that was not high enough and insisted the province match the federal level that starts at $20 a tonne and is to rise to $50 by 2022.

Manitoba backed off its tax plan entirely last year, so Ottawa imposed its own levy in April. It has also done so in Saskatchewan, Ontario and New Brunswick, which also refused to meet the federal demand.

The future of the federal tax is in question. Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has promised to scrap it if his party is elected this fall. Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Ontario are fighting the tax in court.

Saskatchewan’s Court of Appeal ruled in a split decision last month that the tax is constitutional. The province is appealing that ruling to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Squires said the Manitoba government is establishing firm, achievable targets and will meet them through initiatives such as a plan she announced Monday to subsidize the trucking industry for purchases of energy-efficient equipment.

The previous NDP government set emissions targets and failed to reach them _ a fact highlighted by the province’s auditor general in 2017.

Kinew has promised to make the province carbon-neutral by 2050 if he is elected premier. He has also said he would impose a price on carbon which, like the federal one, would be at least partially offset by rebates.

He is not yet prepared to say what that price would be.

“We will have to look at the federal landscape. We want to get a good deal for Manitobans that balances the environment but also keeping life affordable for people,” Kinew said.


Saskatchewan takes federal carbon tax fight to Supreme Court of Canada

The Saskatchewan government has filed notice that it is taking its challenge of the federal carbon tax to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Justice Minister Don Morgan says the province will ask the high court to rule on whether the tax is constitutional and whether Ottawa has the jurisdiction to impose it.

Saskatchewan’s Court of Appeal ruled in a split decision earlier this month that the tax is constitutional.

It also said that establishing minimum national standards for a price on greenhouse gas emissions falls under federal jurisdiction.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, who has said the tax hurts his province economically, promised there would be an appeal.

Morgan said the province has two months to file a factum to the Supreme Court.

“Our government will continue to stand up for Saskatchewan people against what we believe is an unconstitutional tax on their families, communities, and businesses,” Morgan said Friday in Saskatoon.

He added that if the Liberals lose the federal election in October, there may be no federal tax left to fight. The Conservatives have promised to scrap the tax.

“The Supreme Court could say it’s moot, it’s not worth hearing because the government has changed the law,” said Morgan. “Or they could say, ‘No, this is a matter of import. We want to create a precedent.’”

A government spokesperson said in an email that the province does not have to ask for a leave to appeal in this case.

The federal tax has been imposed on provinces that have not implemented their own carbon levies: Ontario, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Ontario and Manitoba are also fighting the federal tax in court and Alberta has said it will join the legal battle.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s government officially killed the province’s carbon tax on Thursday. Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said Ottawa’s tax would be imposed on the province as soon as possible.

Kenney said Friday that Alberta has not yet received a formal notice from the federal government on its tax.

“If and when we receive that, I will instruct our lawyers to proceed with filing a judicial reference to the Alberta Court of Appeal.”


C-stores to get help on energy efficiency upgrades from Federal carbon tax money 

Small businesses in the four provinces with a national carbon price will share $1.4 billion over the next four years to help them reduce their energy use but business-owners say they are getting the short end of the rebate stick.

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna unveiled two carbon-tax rebate programs for small business Thursday morning in Ottawa, nearly two months after the new carbon price began being applied in Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and New Brunswick.

“It took a while, to be honest, to get the details right,” McKenna said.

She said she wanted to make sure the program will be workable and easy for businesses to use, promising quick turnaround time for a direct rebate program to offset up to half the costs for small businesses to buy more energy efficient equipment or appliances.

It’s expected the rebates will be worth $44 million this year. The maximum rebate for any individual business will be $20,000.

More details on what equipment or retrofits will be eligible for what level of rebate won’t be available until regulations are delivered after the Liberal government’s budget-implementation bill passes in Parliament. McKenna said the idea is to include things like refrigerators, dishwashers and anti-idling devices for vehicles to help everyone from farmers to convenience-store owners and restaurateurs.

“We wanted very practical things that will help small businesses save money,” she said.

A separate program will give rebates for retrofits that make their businesses use less energy. That program, which is to cost about $106 million this year, will be for projects of up to $1 million.

The funds come from the revenues Canada is collecting from the $20-a-tonne carbon price imposed April 1 on the provinces that don’t currently have carbon-pricing systems of their own. Legislation requires all the revenues from the carbon price to be returned to individuals and businesses in provinces where they were collected.

Dan Kelly, the president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said the rebate program is “underwhelming” and doesn’t come close to helping small enterprises cope with the added costs of the carbon price.

“This is basically an income transfer from business to consumers,” said Kelly.

With the rebate program capped at $44 million and the retrofits budget sitting at $106 million, Kelly also wondered what the government is going to do if more businesses apply for the programs than there is money to compensate.

He also says the government is treating businesses like an afterthought.

“It is deeply, deeply unfair,” he said.

Most of the carbon-tax revenues—90%—are going to individuals through income-tax rebates. Small and medium-sized businesses are sharing seven per cent of the revenues, while three per cent are going to municipalities, hospitals, schools, universities and Indigenous communities. A program for that three-per-cent group hasn’t been announced yet.

The Liberals expect most businesses to be able to pass on their carbon costs to consumers through higher prices for goods and services, which is why the majority of the rebates are going to individuals.

Kelly said a survey of CFIB members showed more than 80% believed they wouldn’t be able to pass on more than one-quarter of the costs and half didn’t think they would be able to raise prices at all.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce said it had wanted a direct rebate program like the tax rebates given to individuals, so every small business would get something. The program as it stands requires businesses to spend money to get anything.

McKenna said the goal is to provide further incentives to get business to cut emissions by reducing their energy consumption.

Over the next four years, Ottawa anticipates small and medium-sized businesses will be eligible for $1.4 billion in rebates for energy-efficiency upgrades through the two streams.

More than half a million small businesses in Canada are affected by the national carbon price in the four covered provinces.