Friday, October 11, 2019

Court says Doug Ford's government broke the law by scrapping cap-and-trade

Ontario Premier Doug Ford's rash teardown of the former Liberal government's cap and trade program was more than just "irresponsible," as environmental activists alleged in a lawsuit last September.

According to a freshly-unveiled Ontario Superior Court ruling, it was downright illegal.

Two out of three judges on a divisional court panel say that Ford's PC government violated provincial laws by failing to consult the public before scrapping Ontario's cap-and-trade program in 2018.

The decision comes as the result of a legal challenge against the PC government brought forth by Greenpeace Canada and Ecojustice just over one year ago.

The NGO announced at the time that it was suing Ford's camp for unlawfully "denying the rights of Ontarians to be consulted on its wholesale revision of Ontario’s laws for combating climate change."

Ontario's Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) states that members of the public must be given at least 30 days notice to provide feedback on any proposals related to environmental policy before government action is taken.

"You have the right to comment on certain things we're proposing to do that might affect the environment," reads the government's own environmental registry consultation process website. "This can be things that affect the air, water, soil and wildlife in Ontario."

The cap-and-trade system, which would have given big polluters incentives to reduce their carbon emissions, definitely fits the bill.

While the PCs argued that they did provide a consultation period in the form of campaigning for the 2018 provincial election, the majority of judges on today's court panel disagreed.

The ruling will not bring cap-and-trade back into effect, but advocates are still celebrating it as a victory.

"The decision today does not alter the fact Ontarians want to see action to combat climate change, and Premier Ford is dragging the province in the opposite direction," said Ian Miron, lawyer for Ecojustice, in a statement on Friday.

"Scrapping cap-and-trade not only undercut a successful program that was helping Ontario reduce climate change-causing greenhouse gas emissions, it also cancelled 227 clean energy programs that would have benefit schools, hospitals, small businesses and public housing projects."

"Premier Doug Ford did not receive carte blanche to ignore the legal rights of Ontarians just because he won an election," concluded Miron. "And on this issue, the court agreed with us today."


by Lauren O'Neil via blogTO

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