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Doug Ford’s government just got hit with its eighth legal challenge

Environmental groups are suing Ontario for cancelling cap-and-trade without public consultation

by Hilary Beaumont
Sep 11 2018, 9:36pm

Doug Ford at Queen's Park in Toronto on Thursday, June 12, 2018. (The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn.)

Doug Ford’s government has been hit with its eighth court challenge since the PC premier was sworn in June 29.

Greenpeace and Ecojustice filed an application for judicial review Tuesday against the Ontario government for cancelling the previous government’s cap-and-trade plan without consulting Ontarians, as the groups contend is required by law.

The environmental groups say the Ford government “unlawfully failed to provide for public consultation” on a regulation that criminalized the purchase and sale of emission allowances and credits, and on Bill 4, the Cap and Trade Cancellation Act, which is currently before the legislature and would repeal the Liberal government’s Climate Change Mitigation and Low-carbon Economy Act.

The groups say the regulation, filed on July 3, is “defective on both procedural and substantive grounds,” and they are asking the court to quash it.

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“We’re suing to remind the premier that winning an election does not give his government carte blanche to ignore the statutory rights of Ontarians to be consulted on major changes to the laws and regulations that protect them from climate change,” Ecojustice lawyer Charles Hatt said in a release.

The Ontario Superior Court has been busy since Ford took office. Other than the Greenpeace and Ecojustice challenge, there have been seven other court challenges since the Conservatives took power, according to the Huffington Post.

On Monday, an Ontario Superior Court judge ruled that Ford’s move to shrink the size of Toronto’s city council was unconstitutional, prompting Ford to appeal the decision, and invoke the notwithstanding clause of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to override the court decision.

On August 28, the same court ruled Ford’s government had treated Tesla unfairly when it cancelled an electric vehicle rebate program in July.

And there are a slew of other court challenges against the province that have yet to be decided, including an Ontario Public Service Employees Union application to quash an order that cancelled a task force on precarious work, a Charter challenge by the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario over the province’s use of outdated sex ed materials, and a human rights complaint from families with LGBTQ children, also over the sex ed curriculum.

Former participants of the province’s basic income program are also suing the province for cancelling the program prematurely.

Greenpeace and Ecojustice filed their lawsuit the same afternoon that Justin Trudeau threw not-so-subtle shade at Ford and Saskatchewan premier Scott Moe, who have filed constitutional challenges against the federal government for its plan to put a price on carbon. As a result of the recent court ruling on the Trans Mountain pipeline, Alberta premier Rachel Notley recently joined them in refusing to go along with Trudeau’s climate plan, which laid out guidelines for how provinces should implement carbon taxes.

At a press event in Winnipeg, Trudeau praised Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister for recognizing the real threat of climate change and that putting a price on carbon is the right way forward.

“To see a leader, indeed a Conservative leader who understands the need to have a concrete plan that fights climate change and takes real action that is going to be in the best interest of Manitobans right now and in businesses in the years to come, is something that I very much welcome,” Trudeau said.

“And I wish he would encourage some of the other Conservative voices around the country to recognize that having a plan to fight climate change is something that all Canadians regardless of where they are on the political spectrum have a right to expect."

Cover Image: Doug Ford at Queen's Park in Toronto on Thursday, June 12, 2018. (The Canadian Press/Frank Gunn.)