Ontario Indigenous group seeks judicial review of carbon tax

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OTTAWA — An Ontario Indigenous group has launched a legal challenge against the Liberal’s carbon tax, arguing it is discriminatory toward people who live on reserve.

The Chiefs of Ontario filed for a judicial review in federal court on Thursday, arguing that the carbon tax as designed discriminates against Indigenous people living on reserve.

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In their submission, the group argues that Indigenous people are less likely to be able to switch to lower emitting technologies like electric vehicles or heat pumps and thus have to pay higher costs.

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They also argue that because getting the carbon tax rebate is dependent on someone filing a tax return it is discriminatory, because people living on reserve often don’t file income taxes.

“We do not accept a regime that creates new burdens on First Nations which already face deep infrastructure and economic challenges. Canada should be working with us to confront the climate crisis and close gaps on reserve instead of creating policy in an ivory tower that exacerbates the affordability issues our citizens face,” said Grand Chief Abram Benedict, Environment Portfolio lead at Chiefs of Ontario, and Grand Chief of Akwesasne, in a news release.

Benedict said his group tried to negotiate this issue with the federal government, but has found them unresponsive.

“This judicial review was completely avoidable if Canada only showed up to the table,” he said. “I sincerely hope that Canada gets the message that reconciliation and collaboration are non-negotiable, and policy made about us without us is never acceptable. Show up and work with us so we can come up with solutions that make sense.”

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