Carbon tax headed to Supreme Court of Canada — Canadian Lawyer

Martin Ignasiak

Mar 2, 2020

When the Supreme Court of Canada rules on the constitutionality of the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act (the Act), it will be among “the most important decisions to come out of the Supreme Court,” Osler partner Martin Ignasiak tells Canadian Lawyer. In his article, author Aidan Macnab discusses how the Act is heading to the Supreme Court in March. The article explains how three appellate court decisions on the Act’s constitutionality were split, with the Alberta Court of Appeal being the first to conclude the Act is unconstitutional (Ontario and Saskatchewan both upheld the Act’s constitutionality). Martin, Co-Chair of Osler’s Regulatory, Environmental, Aboriginal and Land Group, offers his insights.

“It's very interesting. If we look across the country now, we've basically got eight justices who have said that the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act is constitutional, and we have seven who have said it's not,” Martin tells Canadian Lawyer.

“Looking at the majority decision in the Alberta Court of Appeal, and including Justice Wakeling’s concurring reasons, I think they provide compelling arguments as to why upholding the constitutionality of the act is really going to change the constitutional balance in the country on a go-forward basis,” he says.

The article also details the reasons behind the appellate court decisions. Martin says that the “dissent from Ontario’s majority decision and the majority in Alberta were ‘fairly aligned’ in their reasoning, as was Alberta’s dissenter and Ontario’s majority.” He adds that the “Alberta court was correct in looking at environmental regulation, including greenhouse gas (GHG) regulation, as a tool that can potentially be used by the feds to ‘fundamentally change the constitutional balance of power.”

For more information, read author Aidan Macnab’s article “Carbon tax headed to Supreme Court of Canada” on March 2 in Canadian Lawyer