Saskatchewan seeks Court of Appeal ruling on federal carbon tax
Challenge asserts the province has the constitutional authority to set policy.
REGINA — The Saskatchewan government is asking the province’s Appeal Court to rule on whether the federal government can impose a carbon tax.
Saskatchewan wants to know whether Ottawa’s plan to bring in a carbon price for provinces that don’t have one violates the Constitution.
Premier Scott Moe’s government has consistently fought against the carbon tax, arguing the province’s own climate-change plans are sufficient to reduce emissions.
“Our constitutional challenge asserts that the provincial government, not the federal government, has the constitutional authority to set our policy in this area,” Moe said at a news conference announcing the challenge Wednesday.
“Provinces are not subsidiaries of the federal government and in Saskatchewan we have a plan. Our plan reduces emissions without a carbon tax.”
The federal climate plan calls for the taxing of greenhouse gas emissions starting at $10 per tonne this year, rising $10 a year to $50 a tonne in 2022.
Saskatchewan is the lone holdout to Ottawa’s demand that those levels be met either through a tax or a cap-and-trade system.
Justice Minister Don Morgan says the government’s constitutional lawyers believe Ottawa’s plan can be successfully challenged because it imposes a tax at different rates depending on how each province responds to the demands.
“We recognize the federal government’s right to levy a tax,” Morgan said. “If there was a total uniform rate, such as GST, it would be a different argument, but that is not the way this is structured.”
Saskatchewan’s climate plan includes performance standards for large emitters, better building codes and a freight delivery strategy, but not a broad-based price on carbon.
The province said it wants a ruling by the end of the year.