Andrew Bernstein on Alberta’s carbon tax reference case

December 19, 2019

Litigation partner Andrew Bernstein told CBC  that Alberta’s carbon tax reference case is about “federal provincial jurisdiction in particular and who has the right to regulate carbon emissions.”

Speaking live on CBC News Network with Andrew Nichols, Andrew said despite the fact there are valid reasons coming out of Alberta, given the judges in similar provincial cases in Ontario and Saskatchewan had sided with the federal government, he said “there are reasons to think that’s the way the Supreme Court of Canada will ultimately go when they hear the case in March.”

“The regulation of greenhouse gases for the purposes of preventing climate change doesn’t stop at provincial boarders,” Andrew said.

“And that is at the heart of the reason why Ontario and Saskatchewan courts of appeal upheld the federal legislation, and it’s at the heart of why the Supreme Court of Canada is likely to uphold the legislation.”

Andrew pointed out that carbon taxing is harder in Alberta and Saskatchewan due to their oil and gas-based economies. 

“You can see it’s one of those situations where the federal government might need to step in and say ‘[w]e’ve got to make sure what’s happening on the Prairies isn’t going to ultimately flood the Maritime provinces’,” he said.

When asked whether the location of the case could have an impact on the verdict, Andrew said while there will likely be s greater level of understanding of the impact on the industry from those who live in the province, “[t]here’s no reason to think that the Alberta Court of Appeal won’t listen to what the Supreme Court of Canada has said about what the federal government can and can’t do.”

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