July 20, 2024
Alberta files legal arguments against federal carbon tax
Alberta Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer, left, and Premier Jason Kenney.
Alberta Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer, left, and Premier Jason Kenney.

OTTAWA — The Alberta government has filed legal arguments in its constitutional challenge of the federal carbon tax, arguing Ottawa should not be granted new power to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions in the provinces.

Alberta’s factum, filed in the provincial Court of Appeal on Friday, responds directly to recent decisions from appellate courts in Saskatchewan and Ontario upholding the federal Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act (GGPPA). It serves as a preview of the arguments the province intends to make at the Supreme Court, which will hear an appeal of the Saskatchewan ruling next year.

Like the other provinces fighting the federal backstop, Alberta is arguing that the carbon tax constitutes federal overreach, labelling it an “unwarranted and unprincipled intrusion into provincial jurisdiction” that “undermines the basic structure of our constitutional system.” But Alberta’s arguments focus quite narrowly on how to interpret federal powers set out in the Constitution Act, which will be the question at play during the Supreme Court hearing.

In split decisions, appellate courts in Saskatchewan and Ontario have both upheld the federal carbon price under a section of the Constitution that allows the federal government “to make laws for the peace, order and good government of Canada” in certain cases, including issues of national concern.

Majorities on both courts found that greenhouse-gas emissions are a matter of national concern and that the federal government has the authority to establish “minimum national standards” to reduce emissions.