Doug Ford's Ludicrous Provincial Climate Change Politics

“Look no further than Ontario to find a provincial government that is wasting taxpayer’s money fighting climate change in court. It's shortsighted and irresponsible and, frankly, Canadians deserve better", - Hon. Justin Trudeau

Justin Trudeau, Doug Ford, and Climate Change Politics


Justin Trudeau is blatantly right.  Doug Ford's convoluted, irrational, and misguided provincial climate change politics are nothing short of a waste of invaluable provincial resources, notably taxpayer's money.  As underscored by Justin Trudeau, the most recent and illustrious example of bad provincial politics was Doug Ford's constitutional challenge to the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act (i.e. colloquially known as the "federal carbon tax").  The Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act is in fact Canada trying to meet its climate change obligations under the 2016 Paris Agreement, the international climate change agreement that is successor to the Kyoto Protocol.  The Paris Agreement seeks to "bring all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effect".  The UN makes it abundantly clear that climate change is, in its very essence and nature, a transnational problem that requires a concerted efforts by all nations.

Justin Trudeau's Climate Change Legislation Offers Ontario a Choice

Notwithstanding the all-to obvious transnational nature of climate change, Justin Trudeau's federal carbon tax also intrudes minimally on the province's legislative powers in that it only applies to provinces and territories that do not have a provincial climate change action plan that meets Canada's obligations under the Paris Agreement, i.e. national standards.  Why Doug Ford sought to bring a constitutional challenge to a piece of legislation that allows provinces to do precisely that which Doug Ford says the Ontario government cannot do is beyond puzzling.  



More ludicrous is the fact that Doug Ford is scrapping the same liberal provincial climate change policies which he relies on in support of his position that the province of Ontario does not need the federal government to help curb Ontario's provincial greenhouse gas emissions.  To name but a few examples, reference has been made of: 
  • Ontario's 100% phase-out of coal-generated electricity under McGuinty's liberal government;
  • Kathleen Wynne's Green Energy Act, which was repealed by Doug Ford on January 1, 2019;
  • Doug Ford's cancellation of Kathleen Wynne's $14K rebate for electric vehicle purchasers.
In sum, Doug Ford is arguing that the province of Ontario is capable of curbing its own greenhouse gas emissions by referencing provincial liberal efforts to fight climate change, liberal efforts which he has been largely undermining through his irresponsible and irrational conservative provincial politics.

Doug Ford Opted-Into Justin Trudeau's Federal Carbon Tax

The only aspect of Doug Ford's provincial climate change politics that is perhaps more perplexing than his irrational constitutional challenge to Justin Trudeau's federal carbon tax is the fact that he voluntarily opted-into the Justin Trudeau'federal carbon tax which he now challenges.  Doug Ford did so by: (1) creating a "climate change action plan" vacuum by scrapping the previous liberal government's provincial climate change action plan (a political and legislative process which, it must be underscored, consumed invaluable time and provincial resources); and (2) failed to fill the very same provincial climate change action plan vacuum that he created by failing to come up with his very own provincial climate change action plan.  Worded differently, Doug Ford is challenging the very same federal climate change politics that he welcomed into the province of Ontario.  Recent flooding in various parts of Canada is a reminder that not having a climate change action plan in place is sheerly negligent and irresponsible politics.

Constitutional Challenge to Carbon Tax and Carbon Tax "Gas Pump Stickers"?

Where Doug Ford's incongruent provincial climate change politics hit a brick wall is why bring a costly, resource-consuming constitutional challenge to Justin Trudeau's carbon tax and also introduce provincial legislation to compel gas station owners to display "carbon tax" stickers at the gas pumps that indicate the added cost (¢4.4 in 2019, ¢11 by 2022) to gas caused by the carbon tax. Aside from this legislation being a political response that violates the Charter rights of Canadians in Ontario, major Canadian news outlets project that stickers will cost taxpayers $5,000 for 25,000 decals.  Gas station operators that do not display Doug Ford's government-mandated carbon tax stickers would be subject to fines of up to $10,000 per day.  Why would Doug Ford introduce costly and time-consuming legislation in Ontario that hinges entirely on Justin Trudeau's federal carbon tax if he also believes that the federal carbon tax is unconstitutional?

Saskatchewan Court of Appeal: Looking Foreword

On May 3, 2019, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal issued a 3/2 binding decision in favour of the constitutional validity of Justin Trudeau's federal carbon tax; Justice Ralph Ottenbreit and Neal Caldwell were the two dissenting opinions.  Since the decision was heard at the appeal level, the highest judicial authority in the province, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal's decision is binding across all Courts across Canada.  The binding nature of Saskatchewan's Appeal decision is subject only to other constitutional challenges being distinguishable on the facts.  As well, the Supreme Court of Canada would have the ultimate and final say  on the constitutional validity of the federal carbon tax.  Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe has already issued a public statement to the effect that his government intends on spending more time and invaluable resources, including tax-payers money, on appealing the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal's finding as to the constitutional validity of the federal carbon tax. Somewhat ironically, the criteria used to guide the Supreme Court of Canada's discretion in hearing an appeal is the national importance of the issues at stake in the appeal. 

Comments