Wall pledges to take Ottawa to court over carbon tax — alone, if necessary

  • 12 Oct 2016
  • Leader-Post

‘I’m going to continue to fight’

Wall pledges to take Ottawa to court over carbon tax — alone, if necessary

What’s at stake here is jobs for Saskatchewan people and industries that are important to our future.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says he is prepared to be the lone voice challenging the constitutionality of the federal government’s pledge to impose a carbon tax on provinces and territories.

“I’m going to continue to fight this fight. I’m not sure how much company we’ll have, and I don’t really care,” a defiant Wall told reporters at a news conference Tuesday morning in Saskatoon.

“What’s at stake here is jobs for Saskatchewan people and industries that are important to our future, and we’re going to continue to fight this fight.”

On Oct. 3, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the House of Commons that Canada will implement a “floor price” of $10 per tonne of carbon emitted by 2017, rising $10 each year to $50 per tonne by 2022.

The federal government said it will impose pricing on provinces that don’t develop their own system, but has released few details of how a mandatory carbon pricing system will operate.

Some provinces already have carbon pricing systems in place, or are in the process of rolling them out. Others, including Alberta, have expressed concern about the federal proposal, but none has gone as far as Saskatchewan in threatening legal action.

Wall is Trudeau’s most outspoken critic on the file, describing the prime minister’s actions as a “betrayal” and suggesting that the announcement’s timing showed a “stunning” lack of respect.

The premier’s opposition is based on his view that it is constitutionally dubious and the fact that it would disproportionally affect Saskatchewan’s carbon-intensive industries, which are already reeling from weak commodity prices.

A price on carbon would lead to more job losses in the mining and oil and gas sectors, and it is “constitutionally not on” for one level of government to tax another, which includes Crown corporations like SaskPower or SaskEnergy, Wall said.

“Let’s say we’re one of maybe two provinces that aren’t signing on; how do they develop and impose a brand-new tax on one or two provinces? And how is that constitutional?”

Wall said he instructed the provincial Ministry of Justice to weigh the province’s options several months ago, after rumours of a new carbon tax to be imposed on the provinces reached his government, but the ministry has not reported its findings.

Trent Wotherspoon, interim leader of the Opposition NDP, said on Friday that while he does not support the federal government forcing a carbon pricing plan on Saskatchewan, Wall “hasn’t taken this issue seriously” enough over the years.

An argument could take years to wind its way to the Supreme Court, and the ideas underpinning it are “fairly weak,” according to University of Saskatchewan political studies professor Charles Smith.

The federal government has broad powers to enact environmental legislation on the basis that what happens in one jurisdiction is never contained in that jurisdiction, and will likely frame its carbon tax in that sense, Smith said.

“My guess is this is a pretty thin constitutional argument … And I really don’t see the broader jurisdictional issue that he’s talking about.”




About prosperitysaskatchewan

Consultant on Saskatchewan's natural resources.

Posted on October 13, 2016, in economic impact, miscellaneous, oil, political. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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