Less than two months after a landmark Ontario Court of Appeals ruling upheld the federal carbon tax, Premier Doug Ford may be preparing the ground to abandon his much-publicized court challenge against the program.
With the federal election looming, and Conservative leader Andrew Scheer vowing to scrap the tax, Ford now says voters will have the ultimate say, The Canadian Press reports, in a story republished by National Observer and the CBC.
“This carbon tax, it’s not going to be the courts that are going to decide. The people are going to decide when the election is held,” he said last week. “Once the people decide, I believe in democracy, I respect democracy, we move on.”
But only to a point: Ford indicated he’ll reassess the situation if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals are re-elected October 21. “We’ll sit down and consult with the attorney general,” he said. “We’ll be consulting with the cabinet and then we’ll move forward from there.”
Ontario Green Party leader Mike Schreiner responded that “political theatre” was always the object of the Ford lawsuit.
“What’s really causing the premier to consider backing down is people’s overwhelming desire for climate leadership,” he said in a statement. “No one wants a premier who will waste tax dollars sabotaging solutions when the local and global impacts of climate change are becoming more and more dire.”
Greenpeace Canada Senior Energy Strategist Keith Stewart said Ford should drop the suit immediately. “If Premier Ford wants to stop wasting our tax money on efforts to stop other governments from filling the hole he has created in Canada’s response to the climate crisis, then he should cut his losses and do it now,” he told The Canadian Press.
Ontario is still planning to take C$30 million out of taxpayers’ pockets to fight the carbon tax, in a campaign that includes a set of misleading propaganda stickers that service station owners will be required to post on their gas pumps. If gas stations refuse, “individuals could be fined up to $500 each day, or up to $1,000 a day for subsequent offences. Corporations could be fined up to $5,000 a day, or up to $10,000 a day for subsequent offences,” CP says. “Ford said Friday that gas station owners who don’t put the stickers on their pumps will face fines, but stressed that they would be less than the maximum penalty of $10,000 a day.”
In Saskatchewan, a spokesperson for Premier Scott Moe said that province’s court challenge will continue, regardless of the result of the fall vote.
“Our government believes that the federal election provides a significant opportunity for voters in Saskatchewan and across Canada to soundly reject the harmful and ineffective federal carbon tax,” Jim Billington said in a statement. “However, we recognize that an important question of jurisdictional authority will continue to exist no matter which federal party is elected come October.”