O'Toole says carbon price ruling confirms climate change real, but levy isn't the way to fight it
OTTAWA -- Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole is sticking with his long-standing view that a federal carbon price is not the way to tackle the growing threat of climate change across the country, following a decision by the Supreme Court of Canada authorizing its constitutionality.
In an interview on CTV News Channel’s Power Play on Thursday, O’Toole said his approach would focus instead on partnering with provinces and bolstering the economy to get emissions down, though he didn’t provide exact details about how doing so would achieve his stated goal.
“The court said what we all know -- that climate change is real and it’s important for us to have a serious approach," he said.
“I want to have a plan that Canada can meet its targets. I've also said I'd like to see a net-zero approach plan, a made-in-Canada net-zero approach plan over the longer term, which is the 2050 timeline, but to do it without taxing people. As I said the carbon tax impacts our competitiveness and it hurts people in the margins the most. I think it’s backwards to be honest."
In a 6-3 decision, the top court decided on Thursday that a price on pollution is entirely constitutional and that Ottawa has a right to set minimum pricing standards for greenhouse gas emissions in the provinces.
"The undisputed existence of a threat to the future of humanity cannot be ignored," wrote Chief Justice Richard Wagner.
The case brings a legal end to a years-long battle between Ottawa and many provinces over the carbon price, and prompted Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe to start looking at a homegrown carbon-pricing mechanism and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney to nudge open the door to doing so too.
Saskatchewan, Ontario and Alberta challenged the Liberal government's 2018 Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act in court, arguing it was a federal overreach into provincial jurisdiction over everything from taxes and the environment to natural-resource development.
O’Toole said his party would target large emitters of greenhouse gas emissions and respect the individual carbon reducing frameworks already in place in some provinces.
During the party’s policy convention over the weekend, delegates notably voted against a resolution that would have included the line "climate change is real" in the party's official policy document.
Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said the Supreme Court's decision on carbon pricing is a "good day for Canada.”
“Read the academic literature, go talk to an economist. They will tell you it’s the most efficient and effective way to reduce emissions and to incentivize innovation,” he told Power Play.
In a separate interview on Power Play on Thursday, Gerald Butts, former principal secretary to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, said the Supreme Court ruling is a political “opportunity” for the official opposition to rethink their position on the carbon pricing policy and put the fight “behind them.”
“Find other differences to disagree with the government on and create a true cross-partisan consensus on how to attack climate change in Canada,” Butts said. “If there were a more efficient policy to reduce greenhouse gases than someone would have invented it by now. It’s pretty clear that we have too much pollution because it’s free.”
With files from The Canadian Press.