Federal Court Judge Strikes Down Part of Government’s Single-Use Plastics Ban
A federal court judge has deemed a key part of the government’s single-use plastics ban as unreasonable and unconstitutional. The judge found that Justin Trudeau broke the constitution with his unscientific plastics ban. The decision has surprised many, as it goes against what the Canadian public, municipalities, and scientific evidence have been advocating for regarding the impacts of plastics on the environment and human health.
Government Likely to Appeal
Minister Gilbo stated that the government will most likely appeal the court’s decision. However, this latest blow leaves the Liberals’ environmental policy in a precarious position.
Public Opinion and Climate Policy
In the past, public opinion on the Liberals’ climate policy was solid. However, there has been an increasing debate about the existence of climate change, which has led to doubts and challenges to the government’s actions. The recent decision on constitutionality raises questions about the government’s authority to impose provincial legislation on the environment and natural resources. Despite the debate, scientific evidence overwhelmingly supports the harmful effects of single-use plastics on the environment and human health.
Setbacks and Resistance
The government has faced setbacks in various areas, including the impact assessment agency and the carve-out on home heating oil. These rulings weaken the environmental framework and embolden provinces to resist climate action. The government’s attempts to force action through various means have been met with resistance and legal challenges.
As the government regroups and pushes ahead to salvage its environmental policies, it faces challenges on multiple fronts. The accumulated effects of setbacks and criticisms erode public confidence in the government’s approach. Additionally, concrete actions such as banning plastic straws and bags have become more difficult to implement without strong political support.
Provincial Resistance and Government’s Right to Govern
Provinces, particularly Alberta and Saskatchewan, have been vocal in their resistance to federal policies. They argue that the government is overstepping its boundaries and infringing on their right to govern. This tension between federal and provincial powers raises questions about the government’s ability to enforce its policies.
Carbon Tax and Quebec’s Role
The carbon tax is a contentious issue, with provinces like Quebec signing deals with cities to implement their own housing policies instead of following federal guidelines. Quebec’s stance on climate and environmental policies differs from that of Alberta and Saskatchewan, further complicating the political landscape. Whether the government can sustain its attitude towards carbon tax until the next election in 2025 remains uncertain.
Understood here as something that is a provincial matter and that the rest of Canada is backward on is the common understanding of it, regardless of whether that’s fair. That’s not a way for the Progressive Conservatives to be heard here. Generally speaking, however, in terms of your other question, the script that the Progressive Conservatives can rely on between now and 2025 is uncertain. There are so many things that can happen between now and 2025, and I’m not sure that’s something we can predict. What we can predict, though, is that the broader narrative they’re at is that Canada is broken and that the federal government is not doing what it’s supposed to do. This narrative can be applied to any issue, such as the environment, housing, and more. If they stick with that message, then any kind of issue that pops up can be framed under that umbrella message.
It’s a very versatile message, especially when you have premiers who would like you to be the prime minister and are willing to create tension with the federal government. In terms of the science, I encourage anybody to look at the plastics forum at the United Nations in June 2022. The science on single-use plastics is all there. While the government’s proposed bill may not be perfect, it’s trying to address a national issue that the provinces aren’t taking action on. When funding or incentives are offered to provinces, they often divert the money to their individual constituents instead of addressing the issue. The provinces have shown that they can’t be trusted, even when Justin Trudeau was on their side.
The government’s record on pipelines is mixed. They supported some pipelines like the Trans Mountain Expansion (TMX), but opposed others like the Northern Gateway. Provinces like Ontario and Quebec have also shown resistance to carbon pricing and have taken actions that contradict federal efforts. This could be framed as a question of cost, and if the Progressive Conservatives can effectively frame the carbon tax as a burden on people, it could hurt the Liberals in the election. However, the issue of banning plastics may not have the same cost impact on individuals.
Overall, the Liberals believe they can win on the issue of carbon tax, as they have done before. Whether they can do it again remains to be seen.