Saskatoon

Supreme Court set to hear Sask. carbon tax challenge in December

The Supreme Court of Canada has told the Saskatchewan government it has tentatively set a date for the province's carbon tax challenge for Dec. 5.

Province lost case at Saskatchewan Court of Appeal, argues tax unconstitutional

Scott Moe addresses the hundreds of people who participated in an anti-carbon tax rally in Regina on April 4, 2019. (Adam Hunter/CBC)

Saskatchewan's challenge to the federal carbon tax is expected to move ahead this winter.

The Supreme Court of Canada has told the province it has tentatively set a Dec. 5 date to hear the challenge.

"We believe that the federal government has violated the constitutional jurisdiction of the provinces through the imposition of the federal carbon tax," said Minister of Justice and Attorney General Don Morgan in a news release.

"Our government looks forward to standing up for the hardworking people of Saskatchewan against the frivolous and ineffective carbon tax."

In May, the province lost its challenge against the tax in a 3-2 decision at the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal.

The provincial government is arguing the carbon tax is unconstitutional and falls outside the legislative bounds of Parliament.

Saskatchewan Minister of Justice and Attorney General Don Morgan appealed the carbon tax decision to the Supreme Court of Canada. (CBC)

The Alberta government filed a notice of intervention Tuesday morning to support Saskatchewan's arguments. Canadian attorneys general have the automatic right to intervene in constitutional cases heard by the Supreme Court of Canada.

Last week, Alberta filed its own reference on the constitutionality of the federal carbon tax with the Alberta Court of Appeal.

The Ontario government also launched its own constitutional challenge, in which the Saskatchewan government was an intervenor. The Ontario Court of Appeal has not released its decision in that case.

Saskatchewan has introduced its own carbon plan, Prairie Resilience, but its plan does not place a price on carbon.

Under the terms of the federal carbon tax framework, provinces had to develop policies to put a price on carbon through a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system.

As part of the plan, Ottawa said it would impose a tax on provinces that refuse to develop their own plans — at a rate of $20 on every tonne of greenhouse gas emissions starting in 2019, rising by $10 each year to $50 a tonne by 2022.

Saskatchewan's Constitutional Law Branch must submit its information to the Supreme Court by July 26, which would be 60 days following the notice of appeal.

Scheer supports Sask. position

Speaking at a Regina & District Chamber of Commerce event on Tuesday, federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said his "job No. 1" as prime minister would be to repeal the carbon tax.

The Regina-Qu'Appelle MP said he supports Saskatchewan's legal position.

"We certainly agree with their perspective."

Andrew Scheer told the Regina & District Chamber of Commerce event crowd on Tuesday his first priority as prime minister would be to repeal the carbon tax. (Daniella Ponticelli/CBC)

Morgan said the province would go through with its challenge even if the Conservatives win this fall's federal election.

"Whatever thinking there is at the provincial level of whether or not they want to get clarity around jurisdictional issues that may guide policy going forward, that's certainly up to them," Scheer said.

"But for my part, there will not a carbon tax to fight against. There won't be a carbon tax imposed on the people of Saskatchewan or anywhere else in this country."

Asked about the awkwardness of having to fight against the case in December if his party forms government, Scheer said "we'll think about that when the time comes."

With files from CBC's Adam Hunter

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