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Politicians across Canada react to Supreme Court's carbon tax ruling –



Today’s Supreme Court ruling upholding Ottawa’s carbon pricing is being called a win for climate activists looking for stronger fiscal incentives to curb pollution. But it’s also being called a loss for fiercely independent provinces that insist the federal guidelines are nothing more than meddling.

Canada’s top court struck down the challenge brought by Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario and said in its ruling that climate change is a threat to Canada. 

In its 6-3 decision, the top court ruled the federal government’s carbon pricing system is constitutional, a blow to the provincial governments that had argued efforts to mitigate pollution should be handled at the provincial jurisdiction.

Under the now constitutionally-approved Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, the federal government can determine which provinces do not have an adequate emissions-pricing scheme of their own and impose a tax. Citizens are sent rebates under the Climate Action Incentive to cover any increased costs at the gas pump or on energy bills. 

Here are some of the reactions to today’s decision from political circles around the country:

British Columbia

Terry Beech, federal MP for Burnaby North-Seymour, says the decision means that Canada has an opportunity to be a world leader in reduction of carbon emissions, much like he said B.C. has been a leader in Canada as the first jurisdiction in North America to implement carbon pricing.

“We were the first jurisdiction in North America to implement carbon pricing and we’ve proven that it works,” he told CBC.

“This ruling today is going to ensure that Canadian businesses and Canadians are going to be incentivized to grow a more sustainable green economy. And that’s going to lead to entrepreneurial activities for a really high demand, clean energy, clean tech sector that B.C. has already led in because they’ve led in carbon pricing.”


Alberta Premier Jason Kenney rejected the idea that the ruling is a loss for the province and defended his government’s independent approach to mitigating climate change.

“We now have a third of the Supreme court of Canada validating our position. We didn’t get a majority, but it’s clear that the position taken not just by Alberta but by six of the provinces representing 80 per cent of Canada’s population was a strong and credible position.

“It’s a challenge that had to be made,” Kenney said, telling a news conference that his government would “continue to keep our election commitment to defend our powers and our economy. 

WATCH | Kenney discusses the SCC ruling: 

Jason Kenney expressed disappointment with the Supreme Court’s decision in favour of the federal Liberals’ carbon tax 1:18


Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said the carbon pricing, which he called a tax, is punitive for the people in his province.

He said that the ruling has far-reaching implications for federal intrusion into areas of provincial jurisdiction and called carbon pricing “a blunt, ineffective instrument that kills job[s], threatens the competitiveness of our industries and penalizes essential, daily activities of families across our province.” 

WATCH | Saskatchewan premier comments on the ruling:

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says federal Liberals’ carbon tax is costly and ineffective. 1:26


Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister says the province is still moving forward with its own legal challenge of the federal carbon tax, despite the Supreme Court ruling. 

Pallister said the federal government’s plan is tailored to provinces that have a more urban-based economy, and it would profoundly hurt Manitobans since the province is made up of mostly rural and northern communities. 

“Manitoba has demonstrated a commitment, we have developed our own plan and we are implementing it,” he said. “So we don’t believe that the federal government has a right to jump overtop of what Manitobans have worked so hard on.”


Jeff Yurek, Ontario Minister of the Environment, said while the ruling was not the outcome the province sought, the decision of the highest court in the country will be respected.

“We’re disappointed at the decision from the Supreme Court,” Yurek said. “But, you know, we are going to move forward with our plan for the environment, which is reducing our emissions 30 per cent before 2005 levels.”

New Brunswick

New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs says the legal debate over carbon pricing is over in Canada, and that it’s time to find a way to make the fight against climate change fair for all provinces.

Higgs told reporters it’s likely that the provinces that took the case to court and have refused to create their own carbon prices will now follow his lead and craft their own versions. 

“Once you’ve exhausted the legal process, there comes a time when you have to look within and say ‘How can I best mitigate the losses or the impact on the citizens of my province?’ And I’m sure they’ll do that.”


According to federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, the issue around whether carbon pricing forms part of Canada’s plan with respect to reducing emissions is over and that the government would be moving forward with a carbon price. 

“I look forward to having those conversations with all my counterparts as to how we actually do that in an effective way,” he said. 

“It’s bizarre to me, to be honest with you, that conservatives in this country are opposed to a market-based mechanism that is the most efficient way to reduce carbon pollution.”

Laurel Collins, the NDP Critic for Environment and Climate Change says the ruling is welcome, but that Canadians are still worried about the climate crisis and lack of meaningful action from the federal Liberal government.

“I think Canadians see really clearly the hypocrisy of a government who declares a climate emergency one day and buys a pipeline the next year,” she said.

Green Party Leader Annamie Paul noted on Twitter that while a carbon tax is part of tackling climate change, it isn’t a complete plan.

“We can’t continue to frack gas and build pipelines and hope to meet our targets.”


Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said in a statement that his party would repeal what he called Justin Trudeau’s carbon tax.

“We will protect the environment and fight the reality of climate change, but we won’t do it by making the poorest pay more.”

Delegates vote on party constitution items at the Conservative Party of Canada national policy convention in Halifax on Friday. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

Last weekend, delegates at the Conservative Party’s policy convention voted down a resolution that would have included the line “climate change is real” in the party’s official policy document. 

O’Toole said he stood by an earlier commitment to present a plan to address climate change ahead of the next federal election.

“I’m the leader. I’m in charge,” he said.

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At G7 summit, Trudeau and other leaders mock Putin’s bare-chested horseback riding



SCHLOSS ELMAU, GERMANY — G7 leaders gathering to discuss turning up the pressure on Vladimir Putin over the war in Ukraine are also taking aim at the Russian president’s penchant for taking off his shirt.

The leaders were getting ready for a group photo when British Prime Minister Boris Johnson asked whether they should take their jackets off.

Video from the event in Germany shows him joking that, “We all have to show that we’re tougher than Putin.”

“We’re going to get the bare-chested horseback riding display,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau replied.

“Oh yes,” said Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission president, “Horseback riding is the best.”

Any search for images of the Russian leader is bound to turn up the famous photo of him riding a horse through the Siberian wilderness, wearing only pants, boots and sunglasses.

The Kremlin has released a series of official photos over the years of Putin carrying a rifle, feeding a horse, holding a fish, swimming, relaxing by a lake — all without a shirt. There’s video of him being pulled through the water by two dolphins.

The photos have even been included in his official calendar, in what many observers believe is an attempt to sell an image of a macho, tough leader.

Putin seems unfazed by the countless memes poking fun at him, once remarking to NBC that there are even (doctored) images online of him riding a bear.

For his part, Trudeau has had his share of shirtless photographs since becoming prime minister.

A 2016 Guardian article about him appearing shirtless and holding a surfboard at a couple’s B.C. beach wedding said, “Sightings of a shirtless Justin Trudeau are causing something of a stir across Canada and around the world.” The article noted the prime minister also made international headlines when a photo was released of him hiking shirtless in Gatineau Park.

In July 2018, he made headlines again while on a shirtless jog in Toronto after a meeting with Ontario Premier Doug Ford.

The video from Monday’s G7 event concludes with Johnson joking, “We’ve got to show them our pecs.”

The leaders remained fully clothed for the official photo op.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 27, 2022.


Sarah Ritchie, The Canadian Press

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What is the legal status of abortion in Canada and do we need a law? Experts weigh in



OTTAWA — After the U.S. Supreme Court struck down its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision Friday — the ruling that had, for decades, guaranteed a woman’s right to get an abortion across the United States — Liberal politicians north of the border were were quick to suggest that Canadians shouldn’t take their freedoms for granted.

“No country in the world, including Canada, is immune to what’s going on in the United States,” said Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly, as other ministers and MPs chimed in with similar warnings.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has repeated time and again that every woman has the right to an abortion in Canada, promising Friday to defend those rights.

But in a country that has no legal framework governing abortion, what does that actually mean — and why are abortion-rights advocates urging Trudeau to avoid enshrining that right into law, once and for all?

Here’s what you need to know.

What is the legal status of abortion in Canada?

Abortion has been legal in Canada since 1988, when the Supreme Court decided in R. v. Morgentaler that a law that criminalized abortion was unconstitutional.

Since a 1969 reform under Pierre Trudeau’s Liberal government, Section 251 of the Criminal Code had narrowly allowed for abortions in cases where a committee decided a woman’s health or life was in danger, but it still penalized health service providers and women themselves for participating in other abortions.

In a 5-2 decision, the court upheld an acquittal of abortion advocate Henry Morgentaler and struck down the existing law.

“Forcing a woman, by threat of criminal sanction, to carry a fetus to term unless she meets certain criteria unrelated to her own priorities and aspirations, is a profound interference with a woman’s body and thus a violation of security of the person,” read the majority opinion by chief justice Brian Dickson.

Today, abortion falls under provincial health-care systems as a medical procedure, meaning that access to the procedure varies considerably from place to place.

Why didn’t Parliament pass legislation?

The Supreme Court’s decision left a legal vacuum, so it threw the ball back in Parliament’s court to figure out whether any “reasonable limits” should be applied.

Under the majority Progressive Conservative government of Brian Mulroney, the House of Commons passed a law in 1990 that would have made it a criminal offence to induce an abortion unless a physician deemed that the woman’s life or health was likely to be threatened otherwise.

But the bill died in the Senate, where the vote came to a rare tie.

No government has since attempted to legislate on the issue.

Is anybody talking about introducing an abortion bill today?

In the Morgentaler decision, the Supreme Court did not explicitly state that access to abortion is a fundamental right — and no other Canadian court has said so since.

When a leaked copy of the decision overturning Roe v. Wade was released in May, reporters asked Trudeau whether he would consider putting legislation on the table to enshrine such a right.

He left open the possibility, but said his government wants to prevent a situation where rights are rolled back by future governments or court decisions.

“Maybe it’s legislation, maybe it’s not legislation, maybe it’s leaving it in the hands of the Canadian Medical Association that has ensured governance over these procedures for a long time,” Trudeau said at the time.

The only federal abortion-related legislation introduced in recent years have been private member’s bills by Conservatives that would outlaw certain types of abortions or criminalize the killing of a fetus during an attack on a pregnant woman.

Such bills have not passed.

What’s the case against formally enshrining a right to abortion?

Experts and advocacy groups have roundly criticized the idea of creating any sort of stand-alone law on abortion, saying that this could lead to a plethora of unintended consequences.

“We have no specific legislation for a hip replacement or other medical procedures, so why would we need one for abortion?” said Julia Tétrault-Provencher, chair of the national steering committee of the reproductive rights working group of the National Association of Women and the Law.

Even if the law simply enshrined abortion as a right, putting it on the books could open the door to subsequent governments’ more-restrictive amendments, advocates fear.

“We’ve seen that the power of very small but vocal anti-choice and conservative groups can make a huge impact, and we just don’t know what the country’s going to look like in the future,” said Jill Doctoroff, executive director of National Abortion Federation Canada.

As soon as a new law passed, court cases would be brought to test its constitutionality, said University of Ottawa law professor Daphne Gilbert — creating “legitimacy and a platform” for anti-abortion activists to bring their cases to the courtroom.

Federal legislation could also raise a division of powers debate and give provinces the bandwidth to talk about regulating or restricting abortion in a bigger way, Gilbert said, which could jeopardize advocates’ hard-fought gains.

“There’s absolutely no upside and a whole bunch of downside.”

Are there alternatives to legislation?

While advocates are pleading for Trudeau to keep his powder dry on the legislative front, they still want his government to be active in improving access to abortion in Canada.

In 2021, the Liberals promised $45 million over three years to improve sexual and reproductive health support, information and services, which Tétrault-Provencher said should be made a permanent fund.

Under the Canada Health Act, Ottawa has the authority to claw back provincial health transfers when provinces provide inadequate access to services.

Trudeau’s government has already done that on a minor scale, withholding $140,000 from New Brunswick for failing to provide funding for abortions at a Fredericton clinic — but Gilbert said that’s not enough.

“That’s peanuts in an overall health budget. I think they could strengthen the carrot and stick of the regulatory power.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 27, 2022.

— With files from Adina Bresge in Toronto


Marie-Danielle Smith, The Canadian Press

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Canada ships seeds to Ukraine to help hard-pressed farmers targeted by Russia



OTTAWA — Canada is sending seeds to Ukraine, including fast-growing buckwheat, to help out with a food crisis sparked by the Russian invasion, says Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau.

Ukraine, like Canada, is one of the world’s biggest exporters of wheat and supplies many countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, as well as the UN World Food Program.

Ukraine’s government has asked Canada to send seeds as well as testing equipment to certify grain being transported by rail through Europe. Russia has blockaded Ukraine’s ports, including Odesa, and Ukraine’s silos are bursting with grain from its last harvest, which it cannot export.

Buckwheat, used to make soba noodles, has a shorter growing season than wheat, making it easier to cultivate for Ukraine’s hard-pressed farmers.

Bibeau said Canada is also shipping mobile silos to Ukraine to store grain.

“This is a kind of storage that can be installed very quickly,” Bibeau said in an interview on Friday.

Bibeau said Canadian farmers “want to step up” to help alleviate the world food shortage stemming from the invasion.

She said the government and Canada’s grain producers are “all hands on deck” to get as much grain to developing countries facing hunger as they can.

Canada’s grain growers are well aware of the global food shortages following the Russian invasion, she said, and are “really trying their best to produce more.”

“If we compare it to last year, which was a very bad year because of the drought, we hope to have about 44 per cent more production this year,” Bibeau said.

Katie Ward, president of the National Farmers Union, said Canadian farmers are fully aware of world shortages and there is already “a real push to grow every acre they can get under cultivation.”

At a press conference on Monday, Bibeau launched a consultation on how to address staff shortages in Canada’s agricultural industry, including family farms.

She said Ukrainian farming families fleeing to Canada would be welcome in its agricultural sector, which has many similarities to Ukraine’s.

The World Food Program has been warning for months that many countries that rely on Ukrainian wheat are facing starvation because of shortages.

Earlier this month, Mykola Solskyi, Ukraine’s agrarian policy minister, told a House of Commons committee that Russia’s military has been deliberately targeting Ukraine’s grain stores. He also accused Russia of stealing Ukrainian grain and exporting it as Russian to Syria.

Putin’s forces have also placed mines in some Ukrainian fields and have bombed food storage facilities.

Last week, in the Ukrainian port Mykolaiv, a vegetable oil storage facility owned by Canadian-Dutch company Viterra was hit by a Russian missile strike, though no one was killed.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 27, 2022.


Marie Woolf, The Canadian Press

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