Ontario joins Saskatchewan court challenge of federal carbon price plan

Ontario joins Saskatchewan court challenge of federal carbon price plan

Ontario Premier Doug Ford joined forces Thursday with Saskatchewan in a court case against Ottawa’s carbon pricing policy.

Ford and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe both voiced their opposition to the contentious federal plan, prior to the start of two days of formal talks among Canada’s premiers at a Council of the Federation meeting in St. Andrews, N.B.

“This is an important step in the fight against the federal carbon tax.” – @fordnation says Ontario will join Saskatchewan against federal #carbon price policy #climate #Cdnpoli

“I’m here to gather support among my provincial counterparts against the federal carbon tax,” Ford said Thursday in a prepared statement to reporters outside the historic Algonquin Resort.

“Ontario will support Saskatchewan in intervening in the reference case they have launched with the (Saskatchewan) Court of Appeal. This is an important step in the fight against the federal carbon tax.”

Ford, who had a bilateral meeting with Moe late Wednesday, said both provinces are on “the exact same page” and Ontario will use every tool at its disposal to challenge a tax he says is bad for families and businesses.

Keith Stewart, a strategist with Greenpeace Canada, quickly issued a statement condemning the positions.

“Extreme weather fuelled by global warming is already hurting families and businesses right across the country and will get a lot worse if our elected officials ignore the threat,” he said in an email. “Attacking carbon pricing without an alternative plan to address climate change is nothing less than an unprovoked attack on our kids’ future.”

Ford’s newly elected government is scrapping the province’s cap-and-trade program. A federally imposed carbon price, which the government plans to impose on provinces which do not have their own program, would start at $20 per tonne and increase to a level of $50 a tonne by 2022.

Moe said a one-size-fits-all carbon tax fails to recognize the diverse nature of the Canadian economy.

“This made-in-Ottawa carbon tax plan finds our nation now in this position,” Moe said. “We have two provinces in compliance, we have two provinces in court and we have the rest of the country not meeting the federal carbon tax backstop. Today we’re grateful that the people of Ontario…will join us every step of the way.”

Federal Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna said Ford’s government shouldn’t be using tax dollars on a costly court challenge.

“It’s disappointing Ontario is spending $30 million of taxpayer money on fighting climate leadership,” McKenna said Thursday. “Our government has a plan to protect the environment and grow the economy and it’s working.”

New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant was asked whether Ford and Moe’s declaration would prove a distraction to talks about freer international and internal trade.

“It’s never going to be a distraction to discuss this very important and also very complex subject,” said Gallant.