Court rules Ford government broke the law when it scrapped cap-and-trade program

Oct 11 2019, 12:32 pm

A court has agreed that Doug Ford’s decision to scrap Ontario’s cap-and-trade program without public consultation was unlawful.

Last year, Greenpeace Canada sued the Ford government “for denying the rights of Ontarians to be consulted on its wholesale revision of Ontario’s laws for combatting climate change.”

Lawyers from Ecojustice, in partnership with the uOttawa-Ecojustice Environmental Law Clinic, filed the case on behalf of Greenpeace Canada at the time.

Their case alleged that the Ford government unlawfully failed to provide for public consultation on a regulation that ended Ontario’s cap and trade program and on Bill 4, the Cap and Trade Cancellation Act, 2018, currently before the legislature.

And on October 11, Ecojustice announced that while the suit was dismissed by Ontario’s divisional court, the majority of the court agreed the decision by the province was unlawful.

“We launched this case to uphold Ontarians’ legal right to be consulted on major changes to regulations that affect the environment, and although we did not receive the precise outcome we were hoping for, the majority of the court agreed that what Premier Ford’s government did was illegal,” said Ian Miron, lawyer for Ecojustice lawyer.

“A majority of judges also rejected the government’s arguments that an election is a substitute for the legal obligations under the Environmental Bill of Rights.”

Miron added that scrapping cap-and-trade not only undercut a 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.

During the 2018 provincial election, Premier Ford campaigned on ending Ontario’s “cap and trade carbon tax” as part of his plan to reduce gas prices by 10 cents per litre.

According to Greenpeace, the Minister of Environment, Conservation, and Parks chose not to consult the public as required under the EBR, claiming instead that the 2018 Ontario election was a process that was “substantially equivalent” to the 30-day consultation process required by law.