Ontario has a strong case to put before the courts and the public to challenge the federal carbon pricing plan, Environment Minister Rod Phillips says.
“I think we have a very clear case of federal overreach … You have to go back to the wage and price controls to the last time a federal government reached in to actually try to force provincial governments into this sort of situation,” Phillips said Monday. “In that case, they had to use their emergency powers to enact that.”
With a week to go before the Justin Trudeau government carbon program kicks in, Phillips announced the wrap-up costs for former premier Kathleen Wynne’s cap-and-trade program.
Unlike the billions of dollars that political opponents said it would cost, Ontario has just edged over its $5 million prediction, he said, adding there’s about $5 million in compensation costs.
The Doug Ford government also remains committed to fighting the federal carbon tax plan in court, he said.
“We’re going to make sure that Ontarians and people across the country understand that you don’t have to have a carbon tax to fight climate change, that Ontario has done more to reduce greenhouse gases, a 22% reduction, while the rest of the country has gone up 3% in emissions since 2005,” Phillips said.
The federal plan will drive up the cost of many consumer expenses such as gasoline, but the Liberal government is promising to rebate those funds directly to residents.
Ontario Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner said the public should be opposed to the Progressive Conservative’s plan which he called a waste of their tax dollars to sabotage climate change solutions.
“The fact that they’re spending millions of dollars on lawyers to fight the federal climate plan makes absolutely no sense,” Schreiner said. “I understand people’s concerns around trusting the Liberals with their money, but the Green Party’s going to continue to advocate what is the most business friendly and economic efficient solution to climate change – put a price on pollution, return all the money to the people.”
Phillips said the province already has a plan to fight carbon emissions, and the federal scheme will drive up costs for families by hundreds of dollars a year.
“You’ve got six provincial governments saying, ‘We want to all work to fight climate change, we all want to have our plans and work with (the federal government), but we don’t want a carbon tax and we don’t like your climate plan,’” he said.
By Antonella Artuso
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019