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Ontario’s top court allowing rare live stream of legal fight against carbon tax

nterested Canadians will have a rare opportunity this week to watch Ontario’s top court sort out a federal-provincial legal battle over carbon pricing.

It will be the first time in more than a decade cameras are being allowed in the Court of Appeal to live stream an event.

“Typically cameras are not permitted in courtrooms,” said Jacob Bakan, special counsel in the office of the province’s chief justice. “The court is making an exception for the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act.”

The case, beginning on Monday, pits the Ontario government and supporters against the federal government and supporters over Ottawa’s imposition of a charge on gasoline, heating fuel and other pollutants as a way to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Ontario maintains the federal law is unconstitutional.

In an order last week, Justice James MacPherson gave the CBC permission to put up to five cameras in the courtroom.

Off-limits are any private chats between justices, lawyers and their clients, or court staff, or shots of documents. No camera is permitted on the dais or behind the justices.

While rare, cameras in appeal court have been allowed in the past. In 2007, the CBC webcast the hearing concerning the conviction of Steven Truscott.

“Cameras were also permitted in courtrooms for a pilot project in 2008 conducted by the Ministry of the Attorney General,” Bakan said. “During that pilot project, 21 cases were webcast.”

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