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Discouragement and celebration: How some are responding to the carbon tax decision

Last Updated Mar 25, 2021 at 11:53 am MDT

Pollution from a smokestack. THE CANADIAN PRESS

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – From praise to disappointment and outrage, reaction is coming in swiftly to the Supreme Court decision on the federal carbon tax.

Canada’s top court ruled in a 6-3 decision the price on carbon is constitutional, officially ending a years-long battle between the feds and the several conservative provincial governments including Alberta.

RELATED: Supreme Court rules federal carbon tax is constitutional

Several pundits, politicians, and activists in Alberta have expressed their views on the decision with some saying it is great news for the environment while others believe it will further hurt the economy.

That’s the view taken by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) and director Aaron Wudrick.

“We’ve always opposed this tax not just because we thought it was unconstitutional, we think it’s bad policy. Just because governments are allowed to do something doesn’t necessarily make it good policy.”

Wudrick added the Taxpayers Federation will continue to argue against the carbon tax, saying examples of the pricing in other parts of the world show that it causes more economic pain than it does actually help the environment.

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole, who is been a loud opponent to the tax, said his party would repeal the tax if they form government and introduce other measures to tackle climate change without hurting Canadians’ pocketbooks.

He said the tax only punishes the poorest even further.

“After promising not to, Justin Trudeau tripled the carbon tax, jeopardizing hundreds of thousands of jobs,” O’Toole said in a statement. “Under Trudeau, Canada’s unemployment rate is among the highest in the G-7 and we are experiencing the worst economic growth since the great depression.

WATCH: End to Carbon tax fight?

One Alberta oil and gas industry expert said the decision raises questions about Canada’s ongoing ability to compete with other energy producers around the world.

Richard Masson, an executive fellow at the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy, says the ruling represents a shift in power to Ottawa from the provinces which produce most of Canada’s oil and gas and have the most expertise in regulating, promoting and understanding the industry.

He believes the industry can adapt to the new situation, which includes a carbon price expected to grow from $50 per tonne in 2022 to $170 per tonne by 2030, in part by continuing to improve
efficiency and lower energy use to improve emission intensity.

Meanwhile, Cody Battershill with Canada Action, a non-profit organization supporting the natural resource sector, worries that the upholding of the tax will impact Canadian workers.

“As the carbon price increases, we need to be supporting innovation so that our companies can reduce emissions but keep a firm line of sight to the competitiveness so that we don’t lose jobs that simply go to other countries with no carbon price and inferior environmental standards.”

He added Canada has long been environmentally responsible and that the industry is leading the way on renewable energy, clean technology and producing environmentally-friendly that the world needs.

While many are decrying the ruling, others are celebrating the decision including the group Environmental Defence.

“This is good news for Canadians,” said Programs Director Keith Brooks. “Carbon pricing is one of the most effective tools that government can use to fight climate change. I’m glad to hear that the courts.”

Brooks argues that Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario produce large amounts of carbon dioxide and their inability to truly tackle that issue could have a long-lasting effect on the entire country.

Premier Jason Kenney has said he is disappointed with the ruling but the province will continue to fight the carbon tax.

In February 2020, Alberta’s Court of Appeal ruled in favour of the province, saying the legislation that brought in the tax erodes provincial jurisdiction.

 

-with files from The Canadian Press