Supreme Court rules federal government’s Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act constitutional

On March 25, the Supreme Court of Canada recognized the constitutionality of the federal government's Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act.

The ruling represents the final step in a court challenge initiated by the prosecutors of Saskatchewan, Ontario and Alberta, and supported by other provinces, including Québec.

Justices Russell Brown and Malcolm Rowe strongly disagreed with the ruling, writing lengthy opposing views in response to Chief Justice Richard Wagner.

Brown said the law's subject matter "falls squarely within provincial jurisdiction." He said it was a “model of federalism that rejects our Constitution and rewrites the rules of Confederation.

"Its implications go far beyond the [carbon tax] act, opening the door to federal intrusion — by way of the imposition of national standards — into all areas of provincial jurisdiction, including intra-provincial trade and commerce, health, and the management of natural resources. It is bound to lead to serious tensions in the federation."

Currently, the carbon tax is $30 per tonne. It will increase to $40 per tonne on April 1. The Liberal government has committed to increasing it to $170 by 2030. The federal fuel-input charge applies in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, while the federal charge for large emitters currently covers only Manitoba and Prince Edward Island.

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