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Ontario court validates federal authority to implement effective and fair national climate policy

VICTORIA — Dan Woynillowicz, policy director at Clean Energy Canada, made the following statement in response to the Ontario Court of Appeal’s decision supporting the constitutionality of Ottawa’s federal carbon price.

“With Canada warming twice as fast as the rest of the world—triggering an increase in fires and floods—trying to score political points by grandstanding against sound climate policy is not only reckless, it’s deeply dangerous. With four out of five judges ruling in favour of the federal government, in addition to a similar decision in the Saskatchewan court in May, it could not be clearer that fighting climate change is more important than fighting each other. 

“It’s noteworthy that this case, and the court’s decision, goes beyond simply upholding the federal government’s ability to put a price on carbon pollution. It affirms that when provinces fail to act, the federal government can step in to ensure minimum standards for cutting pollution across the country. With several provinces moving backwards on climate change, this will prove critical in the coming years. 

“Less than two weeks ago, four out of five of Canada’s major federal parties voted to declare a climate emergency as many Canadians—in Ontario, in particular—grapple with the effects of extreme weather and flooding. The verdict today reinforces that, in times like these,  we need to focus on taking more action. If a province backslides and does less, we need a federal government that will take leadership to fill the gap.

“Globally, each of the last five years all ranked among the five hottest on record. Soon, some Canadian homes could be uninsurable because of increases in extreme weather. More citizens are seeing firsthand just how important it is that we fight climate change—and most believe that our governments must lead on this.

“The evidence from B.C. illustrates how effective a carbon tax can be. Independent analysis found that pollution in the province was lower than it would be otherwise, people drove less, invested in more fuel-efficient cars, and used less natural gas at home. And the carbon tax had no significant impact on B.C.’s economic activities and, believe it or not, was even responsible for a net increase in jobs

“We need to use all the tools we have in the toolbox, including putting a price on pollution. It’s clear that it works and today’s finding further supports that  the federal government has the constitutional authority to do it. It’s time to stop wasting time and money on inaction, and start doing more to protect Canadians.”


  • The Parliamentary Budget Officer’s review of the federal carbon pricing system concluded that because of the Climate Action Incentive rebate, “a typical household will receive higher transfers than the average amounts it pays in fuel charges.”
  • A more recent Parliamentary Budget Officer’s report found that carbon pricing was the most cost-effective way to cut pollution. 
  • The Fort McMurray fire was 1.5 to 6 times more likely because of climate change, while the 2017 record-breaking B.C. wildfire was 7 to 11 times more likely, according to a University of Alberta professor .
  • A new study found the 2018 heatwave, which killed 74 people in Montreal, would have been “impossible” without climate change.
  • Last year was another record-breaking year for damages caused by severe weather events. Ice storms, floods, windstorms, and tornadoes did damage to homes, vehicles, and commercial properties across the country. They cost Canadians $1.9 billion in insured losses.
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