Alberta gets its day in court

Deirdre Mitchell-MacLean

Opening arguments against the constitutionality of the federal government’s carbon tax began Monday morning in Alberta’s Court of Appeal in Edmonton.

Legal counsel on behalf of the Alberta government were in court Monday morning to being what is expected to be a three-day argument for, and against, federal jurisdiction in implementing a carbon tax.

“We believe that the federal carbon tax, which will be imposed on Albertans on Jan.1, is unconstitutional,” Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer said in a statement.

“We believe that each province has the right to set its own policies to fight climate change and that the federal government’s one-size-fits-all federal tax … is not the best policy for Alberta.”

The UCP government repealed the NDP’s Climate Leadership Plan in May with the official end to the carbon taxes at the pump and on home heating was extinguished Jun. 1. The tax was removed from the bills of individuals and smaller businesses, but was not removed from large emitters.

In keeping with the previous Progressive Conservative government, the UCP reintroduced the Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction regulation that applies to “facilities that emitted 100,000 tonnes CO2e or more per year of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in 2016, or a subsequent year,” according to a government release.

TIER does not put a price on emissions by individuals and other businesses.

“We are committed to reducing emissions here in Alberta, but in a way that strikes the best balance for our province between environmental concerns and economic activity,” Schweitzer said.

“Our argument today is based in part on our government’s (TIER) system… (t)his shows that there are a number of policy options for addressing greenhouse gas emissions that can take in account local circumstances without putting the burden directly on families and small businesses.”

Large industrial emitters make up approximately 50% of Alberta’s total emissions.

The hearings are expected to last until Wednesday.

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