The Ontario Superior Court has struck down Premier Doug Ford’s mandatory anti-gas tax stickers, calling them an “unconstitutional attempt” to legislate private retailers to “stick it to” another tier of government or political party.
In a ruling dated Friday, Justice Morgan J. says gas stations are at liberty to keep the stickers on their fuel pumps or remove them as they see fit.
“A government or political party can, in the words of the Ontario’s Minister of Energy, ‘stick it to’ another tier of government or political party as a matter of free speech in an election campaign or otherwise. But a government cannot legislate a requirement that private retailers post a sticker designed to accomplish that task,” the ruling says.
“The mandatory fuel pump sticker is an attempt to do just that.”
The province brought in the measure in the spring of 2019 after Ottawa imposed a carbon tax levy in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick, all four being provinces that opted not to impose their own pricing schemes on carbon emissions.
The stickers, which energy minister Greg Rickford at the time called a transparency measure, signalled to customers at 3,200 gas stations across the province that the federal carbon tax had added 4.4 cents per litre to the price of gas and that the would rise to 11 cents per litre by 2022.
Service station owners that didn’t display the stickers faced possible fines of up to $10,000 per day.
Opposition politicians have accused the government of wasting tax dollars on the stickers and abusing legal tools to bolster its anti-carbon price campaign.
CBC News has reached out to the provincial government for comment. This story will be updated.