Supreme Court of Canada upholds federal carbon tax

In a 6-3 decision, the country's highest court ruled Ottawa can impose tax on carbon emissions in the provinces and territories

Canada’s highest court has given the green light to the Trudeau government’s plan to ensure there is a carbon tax in all provinces and territories.

“The essential factual backdrop to these appeals is uncontested,” Chief Justice Richard Wagner wrote for the majority. “Climate change is real. It is caused by greenhouse gas emissions resulting from human activities, and it poses a grave threat to humanity’s future. The only way to address the threat of climate change is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” 

He noted that rising greenhouse gas emissions, which warm the planet, go beyond provincial boundaries. According to the majority on the court, it’s a matter of national concern under the constitution’s “peace, order and good government” clause.

As a result, six of the nine judges agreed that the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act should not be struck down.

Parliament passed the legislation in 2018 and took effect on January 1, 2019.

The federal law sets a minimum price on carbon emissions in provinces that didn’t set a provincial price.

Justices Russell Brown and Malcolm Rowe dissented and a third justice, Suzanne Côté dissented in part, finding the act unconstitutional but agreeing that climate change was of national concern.

The attorney generals of Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Alberta sought to have the act declared unconstitutional, arguing carbon pricing violated provincial jurisdiction.

Environmental and human rights groups, First Nations organizations, health associations, and many others were also listed as intervenors.

This story originally appeared in the Georgia Straight


Comments (2)

  • Frank Sterle Jr. March 25, 2021 04:40 PM

    Mass addiction to fossil-fuel-powered single occupant vehicles surely helps keep the average addict’s mouth shut about the planet’s greatest and still very profitable polluter, lest they feel like and/or be publicly deemed hypocrites. (And who needs ‘carbon sinks’ when, as the subconscious general mentality allows us, Earth’s entire atmosphere and water systems can be and usually are used as our carbon dumps?!)

    Canada’s last Conservative Party prime minister and thinly-veiled theocrat, Stephen Harper (along with his inner circle), was closely aligned with the American Evangelical community and Republican Party — all of whom/which commonly hold the belief that to defend the natural environment from the planet’s greatest polluters, notably big fossil fuel, goes against God’s will and therefore is inherently evil.

    For conservatives they sure pollute the planet most liberally!

  • Frank Sterle Jr. March 27, 2021 07:09 PM

    I often observe parked vehicles idling for many minutes, even in warm weather. Sometimes I’ll also see the exhaust spewed by a vanity vehicle, a metallic beast with the signature superfluously very large body and wheels that don’t at all appear used for work or family transport.

    They’re the same gratuitously tall monsters that when parked roadside hazardously block the view of short-car operators turning or crossing through stop-signed intersections; and they look as though they might get about 25 gallons to the mile.

    Inside each is the operator, typically staring down into their lap, probably their smartphones. I couldn’t help wondering whether they’re some of the people posting complaints about a gas price increase and/or the carbon tax, however comparatively small (and now more than recoup via rebate), onto various social media platforms.

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