Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has long been criticized by progressives (who hold the political scion in contempt as a poser and "faux-feminist") for his quiet support for Canadian Big Oil, can clearly see where the political winds in increasingly liberal Canada are blowing. And as the youthful prime minister (who is rumored to have inherited his famous good looks from Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro) tries to foster a reputation as one of the western world's foremost climate warriors, Canadian courts have handed him a major victory.
As the world waits for a ruling on a major climate change case from the US Supreme Court, and President Biden prepares to unveil his sweeping infrastructure/climate program, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on Thursday that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s national carbon price, the cornerstone of his climate policy, is entirely constitutional.
The API, an influential organization representing energy firms, announced Tuesday that it supports a carbon-pricing scheme, the first time the US energy industry has nominally supported a carbon tax. However, the organization specified that the tax should be used to encourage green energy use, not pad government coffers.
Trudeau declared that a carbon tax would be a key policy goal back in 2016, but it wasn't until 2019, after he was reelected, that the Canadian federal government set a minimum price on carbon emissions in provinces which don’t have an equivalent provincial price. The controversial program applies a price to fuel purchases by individuals and businesses with lower emissions, and on part of the actual emissions produced by companies that are responsible for large emissions, such as pipelines, manufacturing plants and coal-fired power plants.
The law was quickly challenged by the oil-rich province of Alberta as well as conservative governments in Saskatchewan and Ontario. In his ruling, the federal judge who decided the case said companies should pay a price for pollution, the AP reports.
Chief Justice Richard Wagner said in the written ruling that climate change is a real and existential threat to Canada and the entire world, and evidence shows a price on pollution is a critical element to addressing it.
"The undisputed existence of a threat to the future of humanity cannot be ignored," he wrote.
Wagner also said the Canadian provinces can’t set minimum national prices on their own and if even one province fails to reduce their emissions it could have an inordinate impact on the rest of the country. It is a split decision with six judges entirely in favor, one partial dissent and two entirely in disagreement with the majority.
Almost immediately after the ruling was handed down, Federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson issued a statement lauding the decision as "a win for the millions of Canadians who believe we must build a prosperous economy that fights climate change."
Bloomberg pointed out that the ruling is key to Canada’s goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. It’s also a victory for Trudeau, who came to power in 2015 pledging to tackle climate change, but has faced strong opposition from the fossil-fuel sector and oil-rich western provinces like Alberta. Canada produces more greenhouse gas per capita than almost all the world’s top emitters.
Now, considering the timing of this decision, will we hear Joe Biden point to Canada as an example for the US to follow during his briefing Thursday afternoon?