Carbon tax conundrum

In an article in the National Post, Kevin Libin makes the point that soon, next year, three provinces with ½ of Canada’s population (AB, ON and SK) will, very likely, have governments that reject Justin Trudeau’s carbon tax.


There is,” Mr Libin says, “already the matter of the constitutional clash that will form the basis of the Ford court case, over whether the feds even have the power to tax carbon, especially connected to resources. University of Saskatchewan constitutional law expert Dwight Newman thinks the provinces have “more of a case than a lot of people are giving them credit for … [and] … More to the point, no one has explained the logistics that would let [Environment Minister Catherine] McKenna make good on her ultimatum. The ability of a Canadian government to implement policy has always relied on the co-operation of provincial governments, notes Newman.

I think both points are valid … the courts may hold that the tax is not on resources, but, still, it is hard to see how Ottawa will tax without provincial agreement.

Even if this [government is] willing to try, in the face of so many obvious constitutional problems,” Kevin Libin writes, “does it really have the tools and the stomach to monitor and bill for the carbon use of every farmer, factory, fuel pump and furnace in Saskatchewan? … [while] … McKenna makes it all sound so simple and straightforward, from her perch there on the edge of a minefield of untold and unprecedented legal and logistical difficulties. But this is a government that has yet to succeed in executing on anything remotely this complicated. At least it will be entertaining watching McKenna trying to collect carbon bills from ill-disposed farmers in Melfort, without an ounce of help from the province or municipalities.

This is not a government that is famous for doing things well … it hasn’t done any really hard things at all. I agree with Mr Libin that it simply doesn’t have the smarts or the strength to impose a carbon tax against the wishes of three provinces.

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