FUREY: The carbon tax ruling is judicial activism at its worst

Toronto Sun

This is exhaust from an industrial site, in Winnipeg. Friday, February 28/2020. SunMedia

Take a look at a couple of sentences about climate change that appeared Thursday concerning the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling on the carbon tax.

These theatrical flourishes were from the SCOC ruling itself. Right there in the text of the majority decision that ruled the federal government does indeed have the right to run roughshod over provincial jurisdiction and impose a carbon tax on provinces against their will. Because not even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau himself regularly uses climate change language that over-the-top. Liberal government press releases discussing the carbon tax that feature quotes from Trudeau and former environment minister Catherine McKenna don’t come close to that sort of rhetoric.

A lot of people out there would certainly agree with the six SCOC justices that climate change is indeed «a threat to the future of humanity». Climate activists were jubilant after the decision was released Thursday morning, celebrating how the court delivered lines that overlapped with their own favourite activist talking points. But that in itself should give us reason to pause and revisit longstanding concerns around judicial activism in Canada. «The judicial role is to resolve disputes and decide legal questions which others bring before the courts.

It is not for judges to set the agendas for social change, or to impose their personal views on society,» said former Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin in a 2004 speech on the debate around judicial activism that had surfaced at that time. «The charge is made that activist judges — politicians cloaked in judicial robes — have gone beyond impartial judging to advocate for special causes and achieve particular political goals, and that this is undemocratic,» McLachlin noted. To be clear, Canada’s former top judge wasn’t at all lamenting judicial activism. It’s hard to read the more theatrical wording out of the SCOC ruling as any other than setting the agenda for social change or advocating for a cause.

The three dissenting SCOC justices had disagreements with the majority ruling beyond mere technical matters. Although it will surely be met with Greta’s nod of approval.

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Source: Anthony Furey | Toronto Sun

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