Alberta Carbon Tax Repeal
This week, Alberta legislature members voted to pass the Carbon Tax Repeal Act and it was signed into law by the Lieutenant Governor, effectively ending Alberta’s consumer carbon tax. The piece of legislation was introduced by Premier Jason Kenney and his United Conservative Party, who were elected into office in April 2019.
The repeal formed part of Jason Kenney’s election platform, in which he proclaimed that the tax had not helped reduce greenhouse gas emissions and took money out of the pockets of working families.
After the bill was signed into law, Jason Kenney stated: “That means Albertans are already keeping more of their hard-earned money.”
The province had stopped charging the tax last week after announcing its intention to pass the bill.
However, the government will continue with a tax on large industrial greenhouse gas emitters.
The carbon tax first came into effect in January 2017. It was implemented by the province’s former NDP government, which added a surcharge to gasoline at the pumps and on fossil-fuelled home heating.
Possible Federal Carbon Tax
What remains to be seen is whether the federal government will, as a result, impose its own carbon pricing on the province, as has already been done in Ontario, New Brunswick, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
So far, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has not revealed whether his government would move to charge the federal tax as a consequence of the repeal, but has stressed no province would be exempt.
Alberta has already announced its intention to challenge the constitutionality of the federal carbon tax in court if Ottawa imposes it.
Saskatchewan’s Appeal of Federal Carbon Pricing
As we wrote about previously, Saskatchewan recently challenged the federal carbon pricing legislation. However, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal ruled that the carbon tax imposed on the province by the federal government was constitutional and fell within the legislative authority of Parliament.
The case was a constitutional reference in which the Saskatchewan government asked the court whether the federal Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act (the “Act”) was constitutional or not.
The Act was introduced into Parliament in March 2018 and came into force in June 2018. It sought to ensure there was a minimum national price on greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions in order to encourage their mitigation.
The Attorney General of Canada responded by seeking to uphold the Act as a valid exercise of Parliament’s jurisdiction under the national concern branch of its “Peace, Order, and good Government” (“POGG”) power.
The majority of court found that the Act was constitutionally valid because its essential character fell within the scope of this POGG authority, stating:
“The pith and substance of the Act is about establishing minimum national standards of price stringency for GHG emissions. Parliament has jurisdiction over this subject matter by virtue of the national concern branch of POGG. It follows that the Act is constitutionally valid.”
Saskatchewan has announced that it plans to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada.
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