Appeal Court to rule on Saskatchewan's carbon tax challenge

The federal carbon tax is constitutional, Saskatchewan Court of Appeal rules

The decision was supported by three justices on the court while the remaining two offered a dissenting opinion concluding the act was an invalid exercise of federal power.

Mark Jaccard, an energy economist at Simon Fraser University, welcomes the decision, saying it's appropriate the federal government has the power to address a global problem. It argued the federal tax is unconstitutional because it's not applied evenly across the country and oversteps into provincial jurisdiction.

Moe said Saskatchewan would be intervening in the other provinces' challenges, too.

McKenna quickly turned the win into a political challenge, asking Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and conservative premiers who oppose federal carbon pricing when they will "stop the partisan games and join in on serious and effective climate action".

The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal has ruled the federal government's carbon tax is constitutional.

He said whether a carbon tax is provincially or federally imposed, it amounts to "all economic pain and no environmental gain". "It was a 3-2 split decision and we look to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada".

Ottawa responded by imposing the tax on Manitoba, as well as Saskatchewan, Ontario and New Brunswick, which also failed to institute their own carbon levies.

Lawyers for the federal government said the act was a valid exercise of Parliament's power under the POGG principle and argued for Ottawa to have jurisdiction over "the cumulative dimensions of GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions", which the court rejected on the grounds that it could upset the balance of powers under federalism and would hamper provincial efforts to slash emissions.

"We promised to fight the federal government's job-killing carbon tax with every tool at our disposal, which includes supporting our friends in Saskatchewan in court", said Premier Ford after the court decision.

"The factual record presented to the Court confirms that climate change caused by anthropogenic greenhouse gas [GHG] emissions is one of the great existential issues of our time", read the court file.

The tax still faces a parallel challenge in Ontario's courts and the issue is nearly certain to end up in the Supreme Court of Canada. It also concluded that the levies imposed under the act are regulatory charges not taxes and Parliament, by passing the law, has authorized the federal cabinet to determine where it applies.

Saskatchewan NDP justice critic Nicole Sarauer said an appeal "probably makes the most sense, to get some clarity on the decision as it was made and have the highest court in our country provide that clarity is probably the logical next step".

Like other provinces, the government plans to have the standards in place by summer 2019 and will work closely with the federal government to ensure Ontario industry is not double regulated.

Ottawa plans to boost the tax by $10 a tonne a year until it reaches $50 a tonne in 2022.



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