Environment Minister George Heyman (Hansard TV)

B.C. backing Ottawa in Canadian carbon pricing court battle

Saskatchewan, Ontario argue fuel taxes are up to provinces

The B.C. government is intervening in two court cases to back the Justin Trudeau government’s plan to impose carbon tax on provinces that are refusing to impose carbon pricing themselves.

Ontario and Saskatchewan have cases in their appeal courts arguing the federal government doesn’t have jurisdiction to impose fuel taxes on provinces. B.C. already has a carbon tax higher than that required by Ottawa for 2020 and is is concerned about being put at a competitive disadvantage with provinces that don’t, said B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman.

“Greenhouse gases do not respect provincial boundaries or international boundaries for that matter,” Heyman said Tuesday. “We will argue that there will be harm to our competitiveness if other provinces do not put a price on carbon.”

Attorney General David Eby said B.C. will argue that both the provinces and the federal government have a role to play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“Our position is supported by repeated decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada,” Eby said.

Premier Doug Ford cancelled Ontario’s cap-and-trade system for carbon pricing earlier this year, and fuel prices have dipped below a dollar a litre in recent days. Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says his province is using carbon capture and storage, and the federal plan makes Saskatchewan’s oil and gas industry uncompetitive.

Ottawa’s legislation requires all provinces to have a price of $10 per tonne of greenhouse gas emissions in place this year, rising by $10 each year until it reaches $50 in 2022. Trudeau has said Ottawa will impose a tax on provinces that don’t implement one, and return the money to each province.

B.C.’s carbon tax is charged on the amount of emission, whatever the price of fuels. This year’s increase, imposed a year earlier than the NDP proposed as a condition of the B.C. Green Party supporting their minority government, brings the carbon tax to $35 a tonne of carbon dioxide or equivalent emissions.


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