Saskatchewan and Ontario are attempting to derail a federal carbon price through the courts, and Ecojustice has been given leave to intervene in their cases.

A judicial reference posed by the Government of Saskatchewan to the province’s Court of Appeal asks: The Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act was introduced into Parliament on March 28, 2018 as Part 5 of Bill C-74. If enacted, will this Act be unconstitutional in whole or in part?

If the Court finds that the legislation is constitutional, it confirms Ottawa can tax fuels and substances leading to carbon emissions. If the Court finds that a significant portion is unconstitutional, it probably means Ottawa’s approach to curbing emissions is not valid.

Ecojustice has been given leave to intervene in Saskatchewan and Ontario cases in support of the federal government, representing both the David Suzuki Foundation and the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. The Saskatchewan case will be heard on February 13-14, 2019.

Ontario has announced it will intervene in support of Saskatchewan. Meanwhile, British Columbia announced it will intervene in both the Ontario and Saskatchewan cases and argue that the federal government has a right and responsibility to address greenhouse gas emissions. Provinces are automatically granted intervener status should they wish to intervene.

Why is Ecojustice involved?

Climate change is a national emergency that requires an urgent response. Ecojustice is fighting to ensure the federal government has the ability to respond to that emergency.

Protecting the environment is a shared federal and provincial responsibility. Provinces across Canada should be required to work towards implementing a fair system that holds polluters to account for putting communities and the climate at risk by increasing greenhouse gas pollution in our atmosphere.

Canada will not be able to meet its international commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions if provinces are allowed to opt out of taking action.

What would a win mean?

What’s at stake is nothing less than the federal government’s ability to respond to climate change, a national emergency. Climate change will affect the health and security of all Canadians, and only a short window of time remains to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Everyone in Canada deserves the security of safe climate, and no province should be allowed to put that at risk through their inaction.

Photo of a prairie stormscape near Churchbridge, Saskatchewan, by Dave Sills via Flickr. Image obtained under Creative Commons.