United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney speaks to supporters after being sworn in as MLA for Calgary-Lougheed, in Edmonton Alta, on Monday January 29, 2018. The Alberta Court of Appeal is to release its decision today in the province’s challenge of the federal government’s carbon tax. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Alberta Appeal Court sides with Alberta on federal carbon tax

Today’s decision is the first to side with a province against the federal government

The Alberta Court of Appeal gave opponents of the federal carbon tax their first win on Monday when it ruled that the levy is unconstitutional.

In a 4-1 decision, the Appeal Court said the legislation that brought in the tax erodes provincial jurisdiction.

“The act is a constitutional Trojan Horse,” said a portion of the decision written by three of the four majority justices.

“Almost every aspect of the provinces’ development and management of their natural resources … would be subject to federal regulation.”

A fourth judge filed a separate opinion in support of the majority.

The Alberta government had argued in its challenge of the tax that climate change isn’t a national concern requiring overriding federal intervention. A provincial lawyer said in hearings last December that if greenhouse gases could be considered such, then anything could.

The federal government countered by saying climate change is a national and global issue that can’t be left to each of the provinces to take on alone.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney immediately welcomed the ruling.

“We will continue to stand with our allies in Ontario, Saskatchewan, Quebec and elsewhere in defending working families and defending our constitutional authority as a government,” he said. “We expect the government of Canada to comply with the order of the court today and to remove the federal carbon tax on Albertans.”

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe also called for the tax to be rescinded.

The court ruling is a constitutional reference and contains no orders.

Federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson pointed out that two other provincial Appeal Courts — Saskatchewan and Ontario — sided with the federal legislation.

The Supreme Court is to hear arguments next month when Saskatchewan appeals the ruling from its court.

“We look forward to the Supreme Court, which is the ultimate arbiter of issues around differing interpretations of jurisdiction, to be making the ultimate determination in March. We feel confident that the federal position will be upheld,” Wilkinson said in Ottawa.

“We need to work together, but we need to do it in thoughtful ways that are efficient, that are affordable for Canadians and one of those ways is a price on pollution.”

Kenney gave no indication of compromise.

“We do not believe Canadians in this cold northern country should be punished for simply living normal lives,” said the premier, who promised to defend Alberta’s interests from what he called “a hostile federal agenda.”

“If we didn’t do so, then provinces could see their inherent power usurped,” he said. “We would no longer be sovereign in our own constitutional sphere, but would become vassals of a federal government.”

The Appeal Court appeared to agree. It noted that the Supreme Court has only recognized the national concern argument three times since Confederation.

“Courts have been highly reluctant to use the national concern doctrine to create judge-made heads of power,” says the majority decision written by three justices, including Chief Justice Catherine Fraser.

It noted health care, minimum wages and justice are all national concerns but are administered by the provinces. The court ruled that, for something to be a national concern within federal jurisdiction, it would have to be beyond the scope of provincial powers.

The judges said the carbon tax law gives the federal cabinet “endlessly expansive” powers.

“Conspicuous for its breadth, the act allows the federal government to intrude further into more and different aspects of lawful daily life.”

One justice did side with Ottawa.

Kevin Feehan wrote that environmental concerns didn’t exist at the time of Confederation and, since then, jurisdiction has been found to be shared between the provinces and federal government.

“Effective and stringent carbon pricing cannot be realistically satisfied by co-operative provincial action, due to the failure or unwillingness of a province to adequately address greenhouse gas emissions, with resulting adverse effect on other provinces,” he wrote.

READ MORE: Most Canadian households will get more than they pay from carbon tax: PBO

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

carbon tax

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

Just Posted

Ridge Meadows RCMP release year end review video

List detachment’s successes throughout 2019

Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows issue fire bans

Cities say poor air quality from smoke could further exacerbate current COVID-19 climate

VIDEO: RCMP bring 7 p.m. parade to front doors of Ridge Meadows Hospital

Cruisers with lights and sirens blaring give boost to those working within

WEATHER: Mainly cloudy with a chance of showers

Temperatures to reach a high of 11 C

Intergenerational Garden in Maple Ridge open for another year

All food will be donated to the Friends In Need Food Bank

B.C. records five new COVID-19 deaths, ‘zero chance’ life will return to normal in April

Province continue to have a recovery rate of about 50 per cent

John Horgan extends B.C.’s state of emergency for COVID-19

Premier urges everyone to follow Dr. Bonnie Henry’s advice

B.C.’s first community COVID-19 death was dentist ‘dedicated’ to health: lawyer

Vincent was 64 when he died on March 22 after attending the Pacific Dental Conference

UPDATE: 6.5-magnitude earthquake in Idaho shakes B.C. Interior

An earthquake was reportedly felt just before 5 p.m. throughout the Okanagan

Two inmates at prison housing Robert Pickton test positive for COVID-19

Correctional Service of Canada did not release any details on the identities of the inmates

BC heart surgery patient rarely leaves home

James Jepson is especially vulnerable to the novel coronavirus

BC SPCA launches matching campaign to help vulnerable animals after big donations

Two BC SPCA donors have offered up to $65,000 in matching donations

Quarantined B.C. mom say pandemic has put special-needs families in ‘crisis mode’

Surrey’s Christine Williams shares family’s challenges, strengths

Anti-tax group calls for MPs, senators to donate scheduled pay raises to charity

Bill C-30, adopted 15 years ago, mandates the salary and allowance increases each calendar year

Most Read