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Coal tax: The court belongs to taxpayers, environmentalists, indigenous people

Lawyers for governments led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Doug Ford are not the only ones arguing for the federal coal tax in a Toronto courtroom this week.

On day 3 of Ontario's legal challenge, a five-judge panel will hear from the environment, domestic and taxpayer groups, as Ford's government continues its legal struggle against the tax.

CBC Toronto is a live streaming court case that lawyers do at the Ontario Court of Appeal on Wednesday.

The bottom line of the constitutional challenge is whether the federal government has the right to introduce coal tax on a province. Supporters of Ontario position says that pollution pricing is unfair for taxpayers, while those who agree with federal authorities say pollution is a national problem.

Canadian Taxpayers Federation

The Canadian taxpayer federation (CTF) supports the province in its fight against the implementation of the federal coal tax, as it goes for lower taxes.

"It's a tax problem and how it's been implemented," said CTF federal director Aaron Wudrick.

"The governments become very creative in how they want to frame things to do [taxes] more tasty. "

Ford talked about pan-Canadian politics on the issue at the Queen's Park on Wednesday and said that Albert's premier Jason Kenney's big victory last night will strengthen Ontario's fight against the coal tax.

"We are building an anti-coal tax alliance that this country has never seen," Ford said, pointing out that there will soon be five premieres across the country that oppose the Ottawa framework.

CTF has long campaigned against the tax.

Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation

Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation in Alberta says that its way of life will be adversely affected by climate change.

The lawyer representing the first nation says that coal tax is the best solution Canadians have to fight.

Lawyer Amir Attaran, representing Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, says climate change will interfere with their lifestyle. (CBC)

He said the temperatures will increase seven degrees between now and the end of the century.

"You destroy ecology, you destroy the way Aboriginal people live and you destroy them as a culture," said lawyer Ottawa Amir Attaran.

"For them, climate change is an existential threat."

Several indigenous groups are also interveners, including the Assembly of First Nations.

Canadian Public Health Association

For the Canadian Public Health Organization, climate change is a public health protection that only the federal government can address through pollution rates.

"Greenhouse gases do not respect provincial or national borders," says CEO Ian Culbert.

The federal government says that carbon dioxide tax is a way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In this photo, steelworks are shown on the Hamilton Waterfront. (Nathan Denette / The Canadian Press)

He said it can often be a "patchwork quilt" approach to protecting Canadian health.

"It is one of the most serious global threats to public health in the 21st century."

Environmental Defense

Program Manager for Environmental Defense, Keith Brooks, says the Ontario government's environmental plan "lacks rigor" in the fight against climate change.

It's not ambitious enough.– Keith Brooks, Environmental Defense

As the Court heard on Thursday, Ontario has already reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 22 percent from 2005 levels, largely due to the phasing out of all coal-fired power generation. It happened during the previous government.

The PC plan includes a $ 400 million fund over four years to help companies develop clean technology.

"There is no math behind the plan," Brooks said. "It's not ambitious enough."

Brooks says a coal tax will have a "very small" impact on life's profitability, while unforeseen climate change will lead to flooding in people's homes and causing forest fires.

"It has a much greater impact on people's quality of life than four cents on one liter of gasoline."

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