Premier Jason Kenney has said that we are reviewing the decision, but our initial reaction is that this second split decision, following the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal’s split decision in May, has again rejected the federal government’s bid for a sweeping power to regulate GHG emissions in the provinces.
“Nevertheless, a majority of the court upheld the constitutionality of the federal government’s national carbon tax on the narrower grounds that Parliament has the power to establish ‘minimum national standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.’
“The decision’s application to Alberta remains to be seen because, frankly, the previous Alberta government was missing in action and failed to participate in this Ontario Court of Appeal case. As a result, Alberta did not contribute to the record before the court.
“We agree with Justice Huscroft’s uncontroverted observation that ‘nothing stops the provinces from taking steps to reduce their GHG emissions, and hence the emissions of Canada as a whole, and they are in fact doing so.’ And, as the majority noted, ‘the environment is an area of shared constitutional responsibility’ and the federal policy ‘leaves scope for provincial standards that meet or exceed that minimum.’
“Other jurisdictions, including Quebec and some Maritime provinces, have been spared the national carbon tax as a result of provincial policies that do not mirror the federal carbon tax. This is only reasonable. It is neither necessary nor constitutional to impose a one-size fits all national carbon tax on a province that has its own plan to reduce GHG emissions.
“Alberta has a strong and credible plan to reduce GHG emissions without punishing Albertans with a retail carbon tax on people trying to heat their homes or drive to work. This makes a federal carbon tax redundant here. We are committed to our right to make policy choices in our own jurisdiction. We will be making that case to the federal government, to the Supreme Court of Canada and to the Alberta Court of Appeal in our own reference case this fall.”