Canadian government set to defend its carbon tax in Ontario court battle

Lawyers representing the Canadian government are set to defend the federal carbon tax, one day after the Ontario Court of Appeal began hearing the province’s appeal to scrap it.

The Liberal government, which is due to make submissions on Tuesday, insists its law, which kicked in on April 1, is an appropriate response to the nationally important issue of climate change. The aim, the government says, is to cajole people into changing their behaviour.

CBC Toronto has been given access to the courtroom and will be live-streaming the court case. Tuesday’s hearing is set to begin at 10 a.m. ET.

On Monday, Ontario’s lawyers argued the federal climate change laws are so broad the government could regulate almost every facet of life, like where you live and how often you drive your car.

However, those lawyers faced sharp questions from the Appeal court justices, including what Ottawa should do if a province doesn’t want to tackle greenhouse gas emissions.

“When you think about air pollution, the word ‘Ontario’ sort of dissolves with the air,” said Justice James MacPherson. “It’s national and international.”

Ontario, with the help of Saskatchewan, launched a legal challenge last fall against the tax applied to gasoline, light fuel oil, natural gas and propane. The province has also joined Saskatchewan’s case as an intervener.

At the Ontario Court of Appeal, 14 interveners, including provinces that are for and against carbon pricing, Indigenous organizations who point out they are acutely vulnerable to global warming, and business and environmental groups, will get a chance to weigh in.

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