Ford mum on carbon tax challenge in congratulatory election statement

Without mentioning the status of his ongoing federal carbon tax challenge, Ontario Premier Doug Ford congratulated Justin Trudeau on his election victory in a statement released early Tuesday morning.

Ford congratulated Trudeau and the other federal party leaders “on a hard fought campaign,” which ended late Monday with the Liberals’ hanging on to power with a minority government.

In his statement, Ford said he “looks forward to working with the Prime Minister, and with all federal parties, to build better public services and make life more affordable and prosperous for Ontarians and all Canadians,” referring no doubt to the Liberals’ need for opposition support to keep their government, and their priorities, afloat.

“We stand ready to work with the federal government on important shared priorities, including building critical infrastructure for the future, breaking down barriers to trade, ensuring better access to mental health services, and investing in health care, education and other vital public services,” Ford said.

He noted the Liberals’ commitment during the campaign to contribute funding to the planned Ontario Line Toronto subway project should they form government, and urged all levels of government to work together on other issues such as hospital infrastructure, gridlock and affordable housing.

What he did not mention was the fate of his government’s carbon tax challenge, which has been winding its way through the courts.

In August, Ford said he would consult with his attorney general and cabinet after the federal election to determine the way forward on the file. At the time, he suggested that voters would be the ones to determine the fate of the challenge.

“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. “Once the people decide, I believe in democracy, I respect democracy, we move on. The people will have the opportunity, not the courts.”

In June, the Ontario Court of Appeal struck down the province’s case against the federal carbon tax, saying the legislation — the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, enacted in April — is constitutionally sound. The same day, the Ford government signalled its intention to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The law applies to Ontario, Manitoba, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan, all of which do not have their own carbon pricing schemes. The Supreme Court will hear Saskatchewan’s challenge of the tax in December. Alberta and Manitoba have also mounted court challenges to the tax, while New Brunswick has supported Saskatchewan’s challenge.

The Ford government has previously said it was committed to spending some $30 million to challenge the tax.

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