Nelson and Rossland will be joining four other B.C. municipalities as interveners in a Supreme Court of Canada case on carbon pricing in the spring of 2020.
The two Kootenay cities, as well as Vancouver, Victoria, Squamish and Richmond, will ask the court to uphold the Federal Government’s Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act.
The issue is whether the federal government can legally impose a carbon tax on provinces.
The municipal intervention was started by the Climate Caucus, which includes more than 200 councillors, mayors, and regional directors across Canada. Nelson city councillor Rik Logtenberg is the founder and chair of the caucus.
He told the Star that the interveners will argue that what is commonly called a “carbon tax” is actually not a tax but a regulatory charge that should be applicable to everyone because climate change affects everyone.
“We are making the case that given the nature of climate change… it clearly [should not be] targetted,” he said. “It is broadly applicable, not just the government trying to generate revenue.”
He said the intervention is also based on a section of the Constitution of Canada that states that the federal government may pass legislation to regulate behaviour in the interests of “peace, order, and good government.”
Vancouver lawyer Don Lidstone, who is the City of Nelson’s lawyer, will handle the case for the interveners pro bono (for no fee). But there will still be filing fees and other expenses to be covered. Nelson council has approved spending up to $2,000 on such expenses.
Rossland mayor Kathy Moore said in a news release that some people might ask how a small municipality can affect a big national issue.
“This is an issue that impacts all Canadians, whether we live in large urban centres or small rural communities,” she said. “We invite local governments across the country to pass motions supporting local government intervention in the Supreme Court of Canada carbon pricing case. We are stronger together.”
Nelson mayor John Dooley said in a news release that in 2007 his city signed on to the B.C. Climate Action Charter, and has since met or exceeded the targets.
“We believe there needs to be a national commitment to the reduction of carbon to meet the goals of a cleaner, more sustainable Canada,” Dooley said. “Implementing a fair price on carbon across all of Canada will create a level playing field and local governments will benefit from the federal carbon pricing scheme.”