Ontario court overturns mandatory stickers on Doug Ford’s carbon-free gas pumps

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Ontario Superior Court struck down Premier Doug Ford’s mandatory anti-carbon tax stamps, calling them an “unconstitutional attempt” to legislate private retailers to “stick” to another level of government or party Politics.In a ruling dated Friday, Judge Edward M. Morgan said gas stations are free to keep the stickers on their fuel pumps or remove them as they see fit.

“A government or political party can, in the words of the Ontario Minister of Energy,” stick with “another level of government or political party as part of freedom of speech in a campaign electoral or otherwise. But a government cannot legislate on a requirement that private retailers display a sticker designed to accomplish this task, ”the ruling says.

“The mandatory fuel pump sticker is an attempt to do just that. ”

The province introduced the measure in the spring of 2019 after Ottawa imposed a carbon tax on Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick, four provinces that chose not to impose their own emissions pricing systems. of carbon.

Province says it respects court ruling

The stickers – which Energy Minister Greg Rickford at the time called a transparency measure – signaled to customers at 3,200 gas stations across the province that the federal carbon tax had added 4.4 cents per liter to the gasoline prices and would increase to 11 cents per liter. by 2022.

Gas station owners who did not display the stickers could face fines of up to $ 10,000 per day.

The court challenge was led by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), which argued that the law violated freedom of expression provisions.

“The CCLA is very happy that the court recognized these stickers for what they are: an attempt to coerce private entities into delivering a government’s partisan political message,” said Cara Zwibel, director of its policy on public affairs. fundamental liberties.

Morgan said in the ruling that the message was “a blatant search for advantages by a political party and a misuse of the legislative power of a ruling party.”

Reacting to Friday’s decision, Rickford said in an email to CBC News that “the federal carbon tax is making life more unaffordable and hitting the wallets of Ontario families and small businesses the hardest when it comes to gasoline prices and home heating costs.

He said the government respects the court ruling, but “will always stand up for the people of Ontario when it comes to issues that make everyday life more expensive for hard-working families. ”

WATCH | Ontario Minister of Finance Responds to Court Decision:

Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips chats with Power and Politics host Vassy Kapelos about Ontario’s next steps after Superior Court overturns the government’s anti-carbon sticker measure Ford. 3:18

NDP says appeal would be a ‘waste of money’

Meanwhile, opponents accused the provincial government of wasting taxpayer dollars on stickers and abusing legal tools to bolster its anti-carbon campaign.

In a statement Friday afternoon, Ontario’s official opposition party called the decision “encouraging” and demanded that Ford not appeal the decision.

“The official opposition NDP is asking Doug Ford to immediately pledge not to waste another dollar of public money appealing the Superior Court ruling,” said the spokesperson for energy and climate crisis, Peter Tabuns.

“To appeal this Superior Court decision would be another waste of money, another attack on Ontario’s environment and another attack on people’s constitutional rights. ”

Ontario has challenged Ottawa’s right to impose a carbon tax, and the Supreme Court is expected to hear the case in September.

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