Premier Brad Wall is threatening to take the federal government to court over the national carbon tax plan.
Wall said he instructed provincial justice officials to look at legal options should the federal government forge ahead on the carbon tax.
In a recent report to Wall’s cabinet, Attorney General Gordon Wyant said provincial lawyers believe there’s a strong case.
“We think there are options, and if need be, we will take the federal government to court,” Wall told reporters on Thursday in Saskatoon.
It’s unclear exactly what argument lawyers would make in court.
Wall said they would not argue the science of climate change. He also acknowledges the federal role in environmental regulation.
However, Wall says taxation meant to generate revenue is a different matter. Wall said he wants to keep the exact details private because the lawyers would want to present it first in court.
However, in the past the Premier has said a constitutional challenge could be made if the federal government tried to impose a tax on, for example, a government Crown (corporation) such as SaskPower or SaskEnergy.
“It’s the nature of what’s being proposed,” he said. “In principle, they do believe we have a case.”
Brad Wall speaks to reporters about federal carbon pricing plans. (Jason Warick/CBC)
Wall is hoping it doesn’t need to go to court. He’s hoping to elicit more support from other provinces in advance of a meeting with premiers next week.
Wall was asked how many other premiers are on his side. He said Nova Scotia leaders also had concerns but have since come to an agreement with the federal government.
“I think we’ll be on our own right now,” Wall said.
Wall said he takes climate change very seriously, noting efforts to move toward renewable energy and carbon capture. He said technology and investment should be the focus of carbon reduction.
“Now is not the time for a nationally imposed carbon tax,” he said.
He noted 10,000 fewer people are working in Saskatchewan this year than last, largely due to the resource price slump. He said the tax would further harm employment numbers.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said a new pricing system for carbon will begin in 2018. The first year will feature a price of $10 per tonne, rising to $50 per tonne in 2022.
Trudeau said the plan is revenue neutral. All money will stay in the province where it was collected, he said.