Carbon tax: Court heard from taxpayers, environmentalists, indigenous group


Government lawyers led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Doug Ford are not the only ones discussing the federal tax on carbon in a Toronto court this week.

On the third day of the Ontario legal challenge, a panel of five judges will hear environmental, indigenous and taxpayer groups as the Ford administration continues its legal fight against the tax.

CBC Toronto is streaming live court cases while lawyers make presentations at the Ontario Court of Appeal on Wednesday.

The crux of the constitutional challenge is whether the federal government has the right to impose the carbon tax on a province. Proponents of Ontario's position say that the price of pollution is unfair to taxpayers, while those who agree with the federal government say pollution is a national concern.

Canadian Federation of Taxpayers

The Canadian Federation of Taxpayers (CTF) supports the province in its fight against the implementation of the federal tax on carbon since it is in favor of lower taxes.

"There is a problem with the tax and how it was implemented," said CTF Federal Director Aaron Wudrick.

"Governments are very creative in how they want to frame things to do [taxes] more palatable. "

Ford spoke about pan-Canadian policy during Question Time at Queen's Park on Wednesday, saying that Alberta's big win at premier Jason Kenney last night will strengthen Ontario's fight against carbon tax .

"We are building a carbon tax alliance like this country has never seen," Ford said, noting that soon there will be five premiers nationwide who oppose the Ottawa structure.

The CTF has long campaigned against the tax.

Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation

The First Nation of Athabasca Chipewyan in Alberta says its way of life will be adversely affected by climate change.

The lawyer representing the first nation says the carbon tax is the best solution Canadians have to fight it.

Lawyer Amir Attaran, who represents the First Nation of Athabasca Chipewyan, says climate change will disrupt his way of life. (CBC)

He said the temperature there will increase by seven degrees between now and the end of the century.

"You destroy the ecology, destroy the aboriginal way of life, and destroy it as a culture," said Amir Attaran, an Ottawa lawyer.

"For them, climate change is an existential threat."

Several indigenous groups are also involved, including the First Nations Assembly.

Canadian Public Health Association

For the Canadian Public Health Association, climate change is a public health concern, which only the federal government can resolve through the price of pollution.

"Greenhouse gases do not respect provincial or national borders," said Executive Director Ian Culbert.

The federal government says its carbon tax is a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In this photo, the steel mills on the edge of Hamilton are shown. (Nathan Denette / The Canadian Press)

He said that there can often be a "patchwork" approach to protecting the health of Canadians.

"It is one of the most serious global threats to public health in the 21st century."

Environmental Defense

The director of the Environmental Defense program, Keith Brooks, says the Ontario government's environmental plan "lacks rigor" in combating climate change.

Not ambitious enough.– Keith Brooks, Environmental Defense

As the court heard on Thursday, Ontario has already reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 22% from 2005 levels, largely due to the decommissioning of all coal-fired power generation. This happened under the previous government.

The PC plan includes a $ 400 million fund over four years that will help companies develop clean technologies.

"There's no math behind the plan," Brooks said. "Not ambitious enough."

Brooks says a carbon tax will have a "very small" impact on the accessibility of life, while unmitigated climate change will lead to flooding in people's homes and will cause forest fires.

"This has a much greater effect on people's quality of life than four cents on a liter of gas."


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