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ecolog.com Legislative Tracker

Provinces pick sides in carbon pricing challenges

by Mark Sabourin
EcoLog, 11/30/2018 10:30:00 AM

British Columbia will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Ottawa when it faces challenges to its carbon pricing backstop in the courts of Saskatchewan and Ontario. Meanwhile, New Brunswick has filed notice of intervention in the Saskatchewan court challenge and says it will do the same shortly in Ontario. New Brunswick opposes the federal carbon pricing backstop.

Ontario and Saskatchewan are supporting each other in their respective challenges to the federal backstop legislation, so right now it’s Ottawa and British Columbia v. Saskatchewan, Ontario and New Brunswick.

British Columbia will argue that both the federal and provincial governments have a role in addressing climate change, but the federal government has the right and responsibility to put a price on carbon pollution while providing flexibility for the provinces to design pricing plans that are equivalent to the federal requirement. In addition, national action will be needed if Canada is to meet its international commitments on climate change.

British Columbia also has competitiveness concerns if provinces are let off the hook.

“We will argue that there will be harm to our competitiveness if other provinces do not put a price on carbon,” said Environment and Climate Change Strategy Minister George Heyman in a media interview.

British Columbia was the first jurisdiction in North America to introduce a broad economy-wide carbon price, imposing a $10 per tonne carbon tax in 2008. The tax currently stands at $35 per tonne.

The Saskatchewan case is expected to be heard in February 2019 and the Ontario case is expected to be heard in April 2019.

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