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)

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Alberta passed legislation earlier this month that repealed its provincial carbon tax and fulfilled a promise United Conservative Premier Jason Kenney made before the April election.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

Katherine Swampy
Maskwacis chiefs are opposed to RAPID Response

Alberta Treaty 6 First Nations say they were not properly consulted

UCP Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ron Orr spoke to the Ponoka Chamber about the potential a new provincial government would provide to help support small business.
File photo
MLA Ron Orr: ‘Our constituents … want us to defend their livelihoods and freedoms’

Lacombe-Ponoka MLA stands with 15 other UCP members calling out retreat on restrictions

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020. Top Tory leaders of past and present will speak with supporters today about what a conservative economic recovery from COVID-19 could look like. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
O’Toole to vote against Conservative MP’s private bill on ‘sex-selective abortion’

Erin O’Toole said he supports a woman’s right to choose and will personally vote against the private member’s bill

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

Health Canada headquarters in Ottawa. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)
Health Canada releases guidelines for reducing COVID-19 transmission at home

Improve indoor air quality by opening up your windows and doors, among the encouraged ventilation measures

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney updates media on measures taken to help with COVID-19, in Edmonton on Friday, March 20, 2020. Alberta is set to join three other provinces in exploring the feasibility of small modular reactors as a clean energy option. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Four provinces to sign memorandum of understanding to explore small nuclear reactors

Alberta government said in August that it would enter into the agreement to help diversify its energy sector

Sharis Carr, a nurse at the Aaron E. Henry Community Health Service Center in Clarksdale, Miss., holds a box containing doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday, April 7, 2021. The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in using the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
EXPLAINER: What’s known about COVID vaccines and rare clots

These are not typical blood clots – they’re weird in two ways

File photo
City of Wetaskiwin awarded $5.1 million grant for additional RCMP officers

10 Additional RCMP officers to serve the City of Wetaskiwin as a result of the grant.

Titanic was the largest and most luxurious ship in the world. Photo provided and colourized by Jiri Ferdinand.
QUIZ: How much do you know about the world’s most famous shipwreck?

Titanic sank 109 years ago today, after hitting an iceberg

A health-care worker holds up a vial of the AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Montreal, Thursday, March 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
PHAC receives first report of blood clot linked to AstraZeneca

The federal agency says the person is now recovering at home

A real estate sign is pictured in Vancouver, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS Jonathan Hayward
1 in 3 young Canadians have given up on owning a home: poll

Data released Monday says 36% of adults younger than 40 have given up on home ownership entirely

Most Read