Science

Saskatchewan court rules federal carbon-pricing plan constitutional

Saskatchewan court rules federal carbon-pricing plan constitutional”

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. This allows the federal government to legislate on matters of national importance that have a "singleness, distinctiveness and indivisibility" that clearly distinguishes them from distinctly provincial issues.

It argued a carbon tax is unconstitutional because it's not applied evenly across the country and erodes the sovereignty of provincial jurisdiction.

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 against the provincial government in its fight with the federal government over the carbon tax. "It was a 3-2 split decision and we look to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada".

Premier Scott Moe believes a carbon tax hurts his province economically and has said he plans to appeal if the court upholds the validity of the tax.

Ontario is part of a coalition of provinces, including Saskatchewan, Alberta, Manitoba and New Brunswick, pledged to fight the federal government's Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act.

The Ford government argued that the provinces, not the federal government, have the primary responsibility to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and that the regulatory charges the act seeks to impose are in fact unconstitutional disguised taxation.

Instead, the court said Parliament has the authority to establish minimum national standards on emission prices because it gives the provinces "broad scope" to legislate GHG emissions and has the narrow and distinct purview required under the national concern power.

Richards wrote that there is no constitutional requirement that laws enacted by Parliament must apply uniformly from coast to coast to coast.

Martin Olszynski from the University of Calgary says the Saskatchewan ruling is likely to foreshadow carbon price rulings in jurisdictions such as Ontario, where the arguments used were very similar.

Manitoba recently filed papers in Federal Court for its challenge, while Ontario was in court last month to argue its case and is waiting for the outcome.

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". Oil-rich Alberta's new Premier Jason Kenney has said he will scrap the local carbon levy that was created by his predecessor. "We've never said the carbon tax is going to solve the problem", said Kowalchuk.

Unlike those provinces, Manitoba had proposed an alternate carbon tax plan - a flat price of $25 per tonne that would not rise.

Justice Minister Cliff Cullen said Manitoba's case is different because the province had planned its own, lower carbon tax, but it was rejected by Ottawa.



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