Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }

Alberta’s Justice Minister is demanding the federal government immediately stop collecting the carbon tax in his province and return what consumers and businesses have already paid after its appeal court concluded this week that the levy is unconstitutional.

Doug Schweitzer outlined his demands in a letter to his federal counterpart, Justice Minister David Lametti, on Wednesday, two days after the Alberta Court of Appeal released a 4-1 decision that found the carbon tax overstepped Ottawa’s jurisdiction.

The decision, like previous ones in Saskatchewan and Ontario that sided with the federal government, isn’t binding, although all three rulings will be before the Supreme Court of Canada at a hearing next month that will ultimately settle the issue.

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Schweitzer said the federal Liberal government should heed the Alberta ruling while it is waiting for the Supreme Court.

“The highest court in our province has ruled that the carbon tax is unconstitutional,” Mr. Schweitzer said in an interview Wednesday. “It’s a complete infringement on provincial jurisdiction, and we expect that the carbon tax should be immediately removed on Albertans.”

In a strongly worded decision, the court concluded that the federal carbon tax violated the constitution and wrongly infringed on the province’s right to control its natural resources. The ruling called the tax a ”constitutional Trojan horse,” warning that it would allow the federal government to exercise an unprecedented level of control over the lives of Canadians.

Mr. Schweitzer’s warned the Alberta government would take legal action if Ottawa doesn’t accede to its demands by the end of the week. Mr. Schweitzer said that could include seeking an injunction until the Supreme Court of Canada case is decided and he also raised the possibility of Albertans filing a class-action lawsuit.

“We would expect that any reasonable person would not impose an unlawful tax on people of a different jurisdiction,” he said.

Saskatchewan’s Court of Appeal issued a 3-2 decision last May that said the carbon tax, which it concluded was legally a regulatory charge rather than a tax, is constitutional. Ontario’s Court of Appeal issued a 4-1 opinion that reached a similar conclusion last June.

Both of those decisions have been appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada. While Mr. Schweitzer acknowledged it is likely too late for the Alberta case to be formally appealed in time to be added to the March hearing, the decision will be raised and debated before the Supreme Court. The Alberta government is an intervener.

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Lametti’s office referred questions about Mr. Schweitzer’s letter to Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, who made it clear his government does not intend to do anything before the Supreme Court rules. Mr. Wilkinson said he’s confident the federal government will win.

“Ultimately, the arbiter of this will be the Supreme Court,” he said.

“We clearly have a difference of opinion on this. Two-thirds of Canadians voted for political parties that wanted to see a price on pollution and wanted more aggressive action on climate change.”

Saskatchewan, Ontario and Alberta all launched reference cases, a process in which governments can ask for the court’s opinion on constitutional issues. The resulting decisions aren’t binding and have no immediate effect on the law, but governments typically heed those opinions, particularly when they come from the Supreme Court of Canada.

Eric Adams, who teaches law at the University of Alberta, said there’s no legal reason for the federal government to act before the Supreme Court of Canada releases its decision.

“There will be no incentive for the federal government to treat the Alberta Court of Appeal decision as binding or to take any steps as a result of it,” he said.

Story continues below advertisement

“They are fixing their eyes upon the Supreme Court of Canada and will wait to hear the opinion of that final court of appeal.”

We have a weekly Western Canada newsletter written by our B.C. and Alberta bureau chiefs, providing a comprehensive package of the news you need to know about the region and its place in the issues facing Canada. Sign up today.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies