Questions Arising From the Anti-Carbon Tax Sticker Legislation (Including the Fixing of the Set Fine)

Author:Patricia Hughes
Date:September 10, 2019

A short Canadian Press article in The Globe and Mail recently tweaked my interest, It explained that the chief justice had set the fine for not posting the anti-carbon tax stickers the province has required gas station operators to post on pumps at $150. The legislation provides for potentially higher fines. I started thinking about several issues that could arise from this, especially in the context of the anti-carbon tax sticker legislation.

The short article is misleading in one respect: although not specifying “chief justice” of what, the implication (by not specifying chief justice of what) is that it is the chief justice of Ontario (that is, of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice), whereas section 91.1(1) of the Provincial Offences Act refers to the chief justice of the Ontario Court of Justice: “The Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice may specify an amount as the set fine for the purpose of proceedings under Part I or II [of the POA] for any offence.”

Subsection 2 of the Federal Carbon Tax Transparency Act provides that gas station operators obtain and post a “notice” (the sticker) on each gas pump at the gas station. (The government mailed notices to operators.) Failure to post as required leaves the operator liable to a fine up to $500 a day the stickers isn’t posted for a first offence ($5,000 for a corporation) and up to $1,000 a day for each second and subsequent offence ($10,000 for a corporation) (section 4). This implies that not posting for a second day would not constitute a second offence, but a continuation of the first offence.

The legislation also provides under section 3 for inspection of gas stations to ensure the stickers are posted and prohibits any interference with an inspection, subject under section 4 to a fine of between $500 and $10,000 (that is, more than for not posting the sticker in the first place). A director or officer of a corporation entitled to operate a gas station has an obligation to “take all reasonable care to ensure” operators post the stickers, subject to a fine of not more than $500 a day for a first offence and not more than $1,000 for each subsequent offence (subsections 4(3) and (4)). Section 5 describes the contents of the “notice”.

The government has also enacted a regulation to describe in detail how the stickers are to be posted: on every pump, one in English and one in French and “affixed to the gasoline pump upright and in a prominent location within the top two-thirds of...

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