Challenging Ottawa’s Carbon Tax Grab

Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General, issued the following statement on Alberta’s reference to the Alberta Court of Appeal:

“Today, the Government of Alberta will be filing our factum at the Alberta Court of Appeal to challenge the constitutionality of the imposition of a federal carbon tax on Albertans and defend Alberta’s constitutional right to make policy best suited to the needs of our province. This factum provides our full legal argument and full fact scenario so our Court of Appeal can hear and make a decision based on the unique evidence we present. 

“With this action, we are not only fulfilling our commitment to create jobs, growth and economic diversification, but we are also arguing that Ottawa’s unilateral imposition of a carbon tax on Albertans constitutes unprecedented federal interference with our constitutional authority to manage affairs within our own jurisdiction.

“Allowing this unprecedented overreach would effectively amend the constitution to expand the power of the federal government to allow it to further interfere in provincial affairs and dictate our policy decisions. Provincial authority and the practical ability to regulate the entities and activities that produce greenhouse gases are undisputed as a matter of constitutional law. The factum we are filing includes our government’s comprehensive plan to regulate industrial emitters, as well as the fact that Alberta has been a proud leader for over a decade in the regulation of greenhouse gases, which was always seen to be clearly listed as a provincial responsibility under the constitution.  

“Our federation is built on the constitutional principle that the provinces have the better understanding of local circumstances to make policies that are best suited to the needs of their citizens.  This week, I met with the ministers of justice and legal teams of like-minded provinces fighting this unprecedented federal overreach. Each of the provinces are unique with different economies, different demographics and different geographies, among other unique attributes. That is why our constitution was structured to give provinces the right to tailor our own programs at the provincial level to deal with greenhouse gas emissions instead of Ottawa’s imposition of a one-size-fits-all carbon tax that is all economic pain with no environmental gain.

“Quebec has also recognized this unwanted federal intrusion and is intervening in Saskatchewan’s appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.  Even though the federal government has endorsed their regulatory regime, Quebec is notably arguing that it is a province’s own right to make such decisions according to local circumstances.  Provinces are perfectly capable of finding local solutions to address climate change without the heavy-handed intrusion of Ottawa. We are proud to work with our coalition of allies on this point that includes the majority of provinces representing the vast majority of Canadians against this overreach by the federal government. 

“Our constitution is not based on ‘Ottawa knows best’. It is based on the principle that the provinces are best situated to make policy decisions for their own citizens. 

“Our government has been clear: we will use every legal tool at our disposal to fight the federal carbon tax and stand up for the rights of Albertans. We will never be apologetic when defending our province’s interests.  We will never relent in promoting jobs. And we will never be passive when championing our economy.

“Alberta has a strong and proud history of advancing our province’s rights and I am proud that our government will continue that legacy by defending our interests in court.”