The stickers are in the mail.
Ontario’s controversial new gas-pump decals that warn against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s carbon-pricing measures will be in place well before the official launch of the Oct. 21 federal election campaign.
They are being sent to thousands of gas stations in time for the Progressive Conservative government’s self-imposed Aug. 30 deadline.
“The implementation plan is well underway,” Energy Minister Greg Rickford’s office said Tuesday.
“(We) have already begun mailing out packages of stickers to gasoline retailers across the province to be posted on pumps by the end of the month,” an aide to the minister said.
Gas station operators face fines of up to $10,000 a day for not abiding by the provincial law and posting the 15 cm by 20 cm decals that read: “The federal carbon tax will cost you.”
Earlier this year, Rickford indicated there were partisan political concerns behind the provincial Tories’ move.
“We’re going to stick it to the Liberals and remind the people of Ontario how much this job-killing regressive carbon tax costs,” the minister said in April.
Federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is already campaigning against Trudeau’s move.
The provincial Tories are spending $30 million on an anti-carbon-pricing advertising blitz and legal challenge despite setbacks with court rulings that the federal measures are not unconstitutional.
Statistics Canada figures show tens of thousands of new jobs have been created in Ontario since the levies took effect April 1.
It has cost taxpayers $4,954 to print the 25,000 decals, which must be prominently displayed on every pump in Ontario. The decals are being manufactured by Astley Gilbert.
“The proposed regulation would require the stickers to be displayed upright in a prominent location within the top two-thirds of the side of the pump that faces motor vehicles when the pump is used to put gasoline in their fuel tanks, and the stickers shall not be obscured from view,” according to a posting on the Ontario Regulatory Registry.
Each gas station must have “an equal number of English and French stickers at the retail outlet.”
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has complained the stickers violate Ontario residents’s Charter rights.
Lawyers Steven Sofer and Sandra Barton wrote to the government in April noting “the sticker as proposed constitutes compelled political speech and, at the very least, is an unreasonable violation … of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
“We ask that you abandon any efforts to move this legislation forward. Should this legislation pass, as is, we have been instructed to immediately commence a Charter challenge in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice,” the lawyers said.
But the Conservatives counter that they are just trying to inform Ontarians about gas prices.
Green Leader Mike Schreiner, whose party printed its own similar decals warning “climate change will cost us more,” has accused the Tories of misleading people because their stickers do not mention the federal rebates to offset higher fuel costs.
Indeed, Ottawa’s rebate for the average family will be $307 this year and rises to $718 annually by 2022. Those tax breaks are being subsidized by industrial polluters.
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce has blasted the stickers as “an example of unnecessary red tape” that are unfair to its members.
“It is both a new administrative burden and an increased cost to business thanks to the punitive and outsized fines for non-compliance,” the chamber’s president Rocco Rossi said last spring.
Robert Benzie is the Star’s Queen’s Park bureau chief and a reporter covering Ontario politics. Follow him on Twitter: @robertbenzie