Supreme Court of Canada rules that carbon pricing is poggers

You probably saw the news last week around the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision ruling on the constitutionality of the carbon tax. The Supreme Court said that the federal government has the jurisdiction to put in the carbon tax as a matter of “national concern” under the peace, order and good government (POGG) clause in the constitution. 

Premier Kenney pitched a snit and predictably railed against the decision. But he can cite the minority opinions and the decisions of lower courts all he wants. It doesn’t change the fact that he lost and lost big. He actually told reporters that he did not have a fallback plan and that he was hoping to win in court

Kenney also referenced shadowy “Ottawa elites” and how much more sensitive they are to jurisdictional issues coming from Quebec rather than Alberta. Quite a strange thing to say since three of the six judges who ruled against Alberta’s case were appointed by Harper and two of the three who sided with Alberta were Trudeau appointees.  

The UCP government also admitted to spending a million dollars on this doomed-to-lose court case. That number seems low to us as this case went on for years, involved numerous lower courts and involved two private firms as well as ministry of justice legal resources. We are definitely going to be FOIPing those numbers to see if they add up. 

Back in November we reported on how certain law firms with conservative connections were doing very well under the UCP. Well Jason Kenney's own personal lawyer, Steven Dollansky was a part of the losing legal team on this case. Funny thing though, when you search legal databases for Dollansky’s experience in legal matters of this nature you don’t find anything. 

But Progress Alberta also played a small part in beating Kenney at the Supreme Court. Constitutional and human rights lawyer Avnish Nanda approached us back in fall of 2019 about having Progress Alberta be an intervenor in this case. Nanda is a fantastic lawyer who has been on the podcast multiple times and does great work fighting for the marginalized here in Alberta. He wanted to make a very specific legal argument to the Supreme Court on this case and we agreed. 

Avnish eventually teamed up with University of Calgary law professor Martin Olczysnski and they ended up making two written submissions and even an oral submission to the Supreme Court on our behalf. 

When the Supreme Court released their decision they didn’t cite our analysis specifically but,  “they agreed with us on our main point that we need some sort of backstop with the provinces on an issue as as important as climate change,” said Nanda

And somehow we were the only Alberta group to actually intervene in this case. Not one other group in this entire province went to the Supreme Court to push back against Kenney’s attempt to obstruct action on the climate. 

Climate change is a massive, structural, era-defining problem. If we were in charge a carbon tax would probably be 14th down the list of things we would do to address it. But we can’t let Kenney and his allies reverse even marginal wins like the carbon tax. So we got involved. 

We are a unique organization. Not only are we doing original investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account but we’re also agile enough to get involved in something like this case and help defeat Jason Kenney on the biggest stage. 

That’s why we need your help. If you’re able to give we need monthly donors so we can continue to fight the good fight. If you can give, $5, $10 or even $15 a month we’d be incredibly grateful.

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