Ontario passed the Climate Change Mitigation and Low-carbon Economy Act and Cap and Trade Program regulation in 2016. The Act aims to lower GHG emissions by putting a price on carbon pollution through the cap and trade program and other measures outlined in a “climate change plan”.
Under the Act, money raised from Ontario’s cap and trade program was deposited into a new Greenhouse Gas Reduction Account. The account invested money in green projects and initiatives that reduce emissions. Examples include home energy retrofits, like insulation, energy efficient windows, smart thermostats as well as money for school repairs.
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. Ford’s cabinet filed Ontario Regulation 386/18 (Regulation) at their very first meeting on July 3, essentially gutting the operational elements of Ontario’s cap and trade program in one fell swoop.
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.
On July 25, 2018, the Minister introduced Bill 4, Cap and Trade Cancellation Act, 2018, which would repeal the Climate Change Mitigation and Low-carbon Economy Act, 2016, including Ontario’s legislated targets for reducing greenhouse gas pollution.
Hours after we filed a lawsuit on behalf of Greenpeace Canada alleging 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, the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks posted a notice on the Environmental Registry of Ontario providing for a 30-day public consultation period for Bill 4, Cap and Trade Cancellation Act, 2018.
The Ford government must answer in court for its gutting of Ontario’s cap and trade program by regulation with no public consultation.
The Minister has a legal duty under Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights, to provide for public notice and comment on proposed regulations and legislation that could have “a significant effect on the environment” at least thirty days before implementation. This gives Ontario residents, community groups, businesses and other stakeholders the chance to participate in the development of environmentally significant regulations and legislation in Ontario.
That is why we are asking the court to require the Ford government to listen to the very public they claim to represent before gutting the province’s legislative regime for combatting climate change.
If successful, this case will uphold Ontarians public consultations rights, declare that an electoral process is not considered a sufficient means of public consultation.