The Ontario government is violating free speech provisions in the Canadian Constitution by forcing gas stations to display its propaganda stickers opposing the federal carbon tax, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association contends in a lawsuit filed this week.
“The sticker imposed by the Sticker Act constitutes compelled political speech,” the lawsuit states. “Under threat of significant fines, it legislatively requires gas station owners to express the [government’s] position.” [The Sticker Act has apparently become the short form for Ontario’s Federal Carbon Tax Transparency Act—Ed.]
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With Premier Doug Ford and Energy Minister Greg Rickford routinely denouncing the federal carbon price as a “tax grab”, the CCLA “says the stickers are part of Ontario’s political campaign against Ottawa, and there’s no good reason to force anyone to display them,” The Canadian Press reports.
“The Sticker Act requirements do not relate to any technical standards or any concerns about safety,” the lawsuit states. “Comments Ontario has made about the Sticker Act in the Ontario legislature and to the public demonstrate that the content of the stickers are political in nature.”
“Ontario’s government is standing up for the people by implementing transparency measures that reveal the hidden cost of the federal carbon tax on the price of gasoline,” Rickford responded.
But CP cites critics who are panning the provincial stickers as misleading, since they fail to acknowledge that federal rebates leave most Ontarians with more money in their pockets after they’ve paid the carbon tax. A new non-profit, CarbonTaxWorks.ca, also launched last week, with its own set of stickers designed to counter the province’s message.
Meanwhile, “the act forcing gas stations to put up the stickers took effect on August 30,” CP notes. “Failure to do so can carry a fine of C$5,000 a day for a first offence, rising to $10,000 a day for subsequent offences. The government has said it would initially issue only warnings rather than fines.”
Where are the savings for the people of Ontario when their premier is wasting money on false advertising and irrelevant legal challenges to the carbon tax? Clearly he and his government do not understand how the tax works.