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Gas stations face $10K fines for not posting carbon tax notice

Last Updated Apr 12, 2019 at 8:45 pm EDT

Ontario gas stations who don’t post the provincial government’s sticker about the federal carbon tax could be fined up to $10,000 per day.

The government introduce legislation that would require the notice to be put on gas pumps showing that the tax has added 4.4 cents a litre to the price of gasoline and that will rise to 11 cents per litre by 2022.

The Federal Carbon Transparency Act says that any person who is licensed to operate a retail outlet at which has is sold must ensure the notice is posted on each pump.

Failure to do so will be costly. For individual owners, it’s $500 per day for first offence, $1,000 per day per second offence. For corporate-owned stations, a first-time offense is $5,000, after that it’s $10,000 a day.

There is also a fine of up to $10,000 if someone attempts to obstruct the inspection of a gas station for the notice.

NDP’s Energy and Climate Change critic Peter Tabuns called it a “new low” for the Ford government.

“It’s bad enough that he’s wasting public money on partisan promotion, but now he’s threatening private business owners with massive fines for failing to post Conservative Party advertisement,” read a statement for Tabuns.

Green party Leader Mike Schreiner said Ford is wasting public tax dollars and abusing legal tools to bolster his anti-carbon tax campaign.

“This has nothing to do with transparency and everything to do with helping his federal cousins win the election,” Schreiner said in a statement.

Similar critiques came from federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, who denounced the fines as “ridiculous.”

“Not only is this a violation of freedom of speech, it will cost small business owners across the province who don’t want to take part in this government propaganda campaign,” McKenna said in a statement. “This should be denounced by all political parties as a new low for our political discourse.”

Duff Conacher, co-founder of advocacy group Democracy Watch, dubbed the would-be stickers “propaganda.”

“To penalize gas stations for not displaying this crosses a line into political vendetta by Doug Ford, as opposed to a public interest policy,” he said.

Amir Attaran, a law professor at the University of Ottawa, called the government proposal a “farce” and said the legislation breaches the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“The government can mandate a no-smoking sticker because of public safety, but they cannot mandate a partisan political statement without destroying freedom of expression unconstitutionally.”

When asked what might happened in the case of the stickers being vandalized, Energy Minister Greg Rickford’s office said regulations will be developed soon to answer those questions.

They added the intent is that the notices will be mandated at every pump, “so Ontario families know exactly what the Trudeau carbon tax cash grab cost them every time they fill up.”

Spokespeople for Suncor Energy, which operates Petro-Canada gas stations, and Husky Energy said they would comply with the legislation. The Canadian Fuels Association, which represents gas retailers, declined to comment.

The carbon tax is expected cost to a typical household $258 this year and $648 by 2022.

Residents of provinces with the tax will be getting rebates on their income tax returns that start at $128 annually and increase for people with spouses or dependents at home. The federal government says a family of four in Ontario would get $307 this year.

Ontario is one of four provinces, including Manitoba, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick, where Ottawa imposed the levy because they opted not to impose their own pricing schemes on carbon emissions.

Ontario is challenging the carbon tax in court next week.