Alberta launches court challenge of federal carbon tax

Province wants a legal opinion on the constitutionality of Ottawa imposing the tax

(A flare stack lights the sky from the Imperial Oil refinery in Edmonton. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson)

Alberta’s justice minister says the province is asking for a legal opinion on the constitutionality of the federal government imposing its carbon tax.

At a news conference Thursday, Doug Schweitzer said the province has filed a reference case with the Alberta Court of Appeal.

“The federal government has recently announced that it will impose a carbon tax on Albertans starting January 1, 2020,” he said in Edmonton. “Our government contends this constitutes federal overreach into our exclusive provincial jurisdiction to manage our own affairs in a way that is suitable to local conditions.”

Schweitzer, who pegged court costs at about $300,000, said the province will use every legal tool at its disposal to fight Ottawa’s carbon price and will ”continue to support other province’s challenges against this federal tax grab.”

The federal tax has already been imposed on provinces that have not implemented their own carbon levies: Ontario, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. All but New Brunswick have gone to court over it.

The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal ruled in May that a federally imposed carbon tax is constitutional. It also said that establishing minimum national standards for a price on greenhouse gas emissions falls under federal jurisdiction.

Alberta NDP energy critic Irfan Sabir noted that court ruling.

“It’s insane that we would bring forward a similar challenge and expect something different in results,” he said. “It’s the same federal government, the same Constitution and it has been recognized … on exactly the same question.”

Sabir said it’s a waste of taxpayer dollars.

Schweitzer said Alberta disagrees with the recent court decision and wants to put its own legal case forward as Saskatchewan looks to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

“We’ll be providing our government’s full arguments and will present the court with a full evidentiary record that defends our right to make policy best suited to the needs of our province.”

Alberta passed legislation earlier this month that repealed its provincial carbon tax and fulfilled a promise United Conservative Premier Jason Kenney made before the April election.

A spokeswoman for Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said Kenney is following in the footsteps of other Conservative leaders.

“Instead of wasting taxpayer dollars in court fighting climate action, we would have hoped to see the premier join with us to fight climate change,” said an emailed statement from press secretary Sabrina Kim.

“Jason Kenney knows full well that he’s trading a made-in-Alberta approach to pricing pollution for the federal backstop. That’s the choice he made when he decided to tear up Alberta’s climate plan.”

The federal levy is $20 a tonne and is set to rise to $50 a tonne by 2022.

Several studies have shown that British Columbia’s carbon tax has decreased that province’s emissions by 15 per cent and reduced its per-capita gasoline and natural gas use.

— With files from Dean Bennett

Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Canfor announces permanent closure of Isle Pierre Mill

The company also announced curtailments at their pulp mills in Prince George.

COVID-19 and returning to safe operation

WorkSafeBC recognizes the importance of worker safety as businesses look to resume… Continue reading

Local governments receiving provincial grants

Meant for infrastructure projects and planning

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

Snowbirds to remain at Kamloops Airport indefinitely after fatal crash

small contingent of the Snowbirds team is staying in Kamloops, acting as stewards of the jets

Most Read