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PC leader pledges to take federal government to Supreme Court over carbon tax

PC Leader James Aylward, flanked by fellow MLA’s Colin LaVie and Sidney MacEwen, pledges to fight any imposition of a carbon tax at a press event on Thursday.
PC Leader James Aylward, flanked by fellow MLA’s Colin LaVie and Sidney MacEwen, pledges to fight any imposition of a carbon tax at a press event on Thursday. - Stu Neatby

On Thursday, Progressive Conservative leader James Aylward pledged to use any means necessary to stop a carbon tax on P.E.I., up to and including a Supreme Court challenge.

Prince Edward Island’s leader of the Opposition said that, if elected, he would work with other provinces to thwart a federally mandated carbon tax. Last May, the federal government released plans to place a price on carbon emissions that could see the price of gas rise 11 cents a litre in all provinces by 2022.

"I would certainly look at all the options available, one of which would be joining forces with Saskatchewan, Ontario, potentially Alberta after their next election to take the federal government to court over this on a constitutional challenge," Aylward said on Thursday.

The carbon tax is part of federal efforts to curb carbon emissions. The federal government’s plan does allow some flexibility for provinces that wish to impose their own provincial carbon tax.

While Aylward said that climate change was important, he said that Islanders are already “over-taxed and over-burdened”.

“Islanders shouldn’t be financially penalized for the Liberal and Green desire to put a carbon tax in place.”

In an interview with CBC on Wednesday, P.E.I. Environment Minister Richard Brown said the climate action plan he planned to submit to the federal government does not include a carbon tax. He said he opposed the tax but did not say he would oppose a federal carbon tax on the Island.

Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker said the opposition of both Liberal and Conservative MLA’s to the carbon tax was “short-sighted.”

"Ignoring the problem, which seems to be the PC approach, without a doubt that will end up costing us more. That's fiscally irresponsible. It's probably the most expensive option, to ignore the problem and imagine that climate change is not happening," Bevan-Baker said.

Bevan-Baker said carbon pricing was a cost-effective way of incorporating the costs of carbon pollution into fossil fuels. He said other provinces such as Alberta and British Columbia have used carbon tax revenue to provide income tax relief for middle or lower income individuals.

Bevan-Baker said fighting a protracted legal battle with the federal government would be costly for the Island’s government.

"I think the noises from Ottawa are pretty clear that they're going to stick to their guns on this," he said.

Stu.neatby@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/stu_neatby

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