Money to burn?

Just in time for Canada Day, the Ontario Court of Appeals provided the federal government with some fuel for its on-going battle over carbon pricing with its provincial counterpart.

In a 4-1 decision issued June 28, Ontario’s top court ruled the federal government’s carbon pricing plan is constitutionally appropriate.

The Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, enacted in April, is within Parliament’s jurisdiction to legislate in relation to matters of “national concern,” Chief Justice George Strathy wrote on behalf of the court in the decision.

Interestingly, Strathy also wrote “The charges imposed by the act are themselves constitutional. They are regulatory in nature and connected to the purposes of the act. They are not taxes.”

Which pretty much makes silly putty out of Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s pre- and post-election talking points denouncing the evils of the federal “carbon tax.”

The province’s top legal body has declared the federal carbon price is not even, strictly speaking, a tax.

Of course, the ruling was no sooner issued than the Ford government declared, to no one’s surprise, they would be appealing the matter to the Supreme Court.

And why not? The Progressive Conservatives have put aside $30 million to fight the carbon not-a-tax, which in fact ends up a revenue-neutral exercise for most Ontarians (the federal government provides rebates on income tax returns, generally equivalent to the household cost of the tax, from the revenue collected through the program).

One wonders how many will be encouraged to see the province has funds to expend on what most experts have said from the start is a futile court battle from Ontario’s perspective. Two provincial appeal courts, in Ontario and Saskatchewan, have now ruled the tax is constitutional. Seems unlikely a federal court would be swayed by provincial arguments that jurists in those jurisdictions deemed insufficient.

As a productive use of money this seems right up there with a donation to multi-millionaire Kevin O’Leary’s failed federal 2017 Conservative leadership campaign (he’s still collecting because election regulations won’t allow him to pay it off himself).

So it appears students dealing with reduced OSAP allotments, disabled Ontarians denied legal aid, and school boards trying to squeeze enough out of their budget to run a reasonable array of courses can take solace in knowing their sacrifice is helping to fund efforts to prevent Canada’s government from doing anything about climate change and its expensive  and devastating impacts.

Ontario: “Yours to Discover” or “Money to Burn”?